by BEN RICHARDSON and SOPHIE GORECKI - The Westfield Boys Cross Country team runs through their go-to steps for a successful meet.
WESTFIELD, Ind. (Aug. 25, 2019) - October may seem far away for most, but not for the Boys Cross Country team. The countdown to Sectionals on Oct. 12 has begun, and they have trained nearly every day for three months. Thanks to proper preparation, the team undertakes each meet as a well-oiled machine, with each member following suit.
“We run seven days a week all the way from the first week of June,” Joe Barnett (12) said. “For some people, weekly mileage might be close to 40 miles.”
Westfield Cross Country runners know better than most that achievement begins with dedication, which starts long before the meet itself. On the actual day of competition, each runner hopes to reap the benefits of his hard work as they all prepare mentally for the race.
“I just like to close my eyes and visualize the race,” Barnett said. “If I’m ever nervous that calms me down and I feel like I’m ready to go.”
Encouragement and hype are never in short supply moments before the starting pistol goes off.
“[The coaches] pump us up and give us inspiration and remind us of our goals for that meet,” Kyler Koning (11) said. “That’s where we really come together before we race and remind ourselves that we are a team, and we should race together.”
After so much preparation and anticipation, each member of the squad begins to feel the pressures that come with doing his best for the greater purpose. Therefore, getting into the right mindset is vital, and Owen Flynn (9) finds an outlet when he puts on his headphones.
“Personally, I like to listen to music, not necessarily hyped-up music, more calm stuff just to get me in the mindset of I have a job to do,” Flynn said.
In his sophomore and junior years on the team, Mahamat Djour (12) picked a few go-to songs to listen to on repeat before meets to prepare. Now, he finds the best pregame ritual is simply none at all.
“This year I’m more trying to break away from routines, because I feel like routines get you in that mindset that you’re depending on something, and if you don’t have something, you’d say ‘Oh I’m not gonna race well,’ and all that superstitious stuff,” Djour said.
While each runner has a particular source of motivation for each meet, the team still remains united in one common goal: join forces and bring home a win. The team’s next home meet is the Riverview Health Invitational on Saturday, Sept. 21 at 9:00 a.m., where they will compete against Fishers, Delta and East Central.
“We’re all a pretty tight group,” Koning said. “We all go to practices together; we all have fun together, freshman to senior. We all just work each practice out together as a team and get ready for meets.”