Cross Country Loves to Run

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CHS 2015-2016 Cross Country Team

Katrina Bucher and Rayner Reinhardt

Running, running, and even more running, CHS’s cross country team sure does love to run.

CHS’s cross country team is coached by head coach Sandra Gallagher-Mohler (Coach S, to the runners), and assistant coach Ben Fusco.

“Neither of our teams achieved this goal last year, so we are working hard now to make sure we get there this season,” Coach Fusco explained.

The team is composed of JV girls, JV boys, Varsity girls, and Varsity boys. The full team is made of 41 athletes. They all compete in a series of 5K races, and the seasons ends with Country Championships on October 24. The top 7 runners from there will compete in Regional Championships on November 5.

If the team places in the top half of the region or one of the runners finishes in the top 25% of their race, they will advance to the State Championships.

The team opened their season with the Baltimore County Relays on September 5th.

Practices are held everyday after school from the end of the school day to 5 o’clock, with the exception of Fridays, where the athletes meet at school at 5:15 am. Runners report to the locker room after school, change into running clothes, and then meet around the big oak tree outside.

“We work with our athletes on stretching, speed, endurance, and nutrition. We also help them with technique in charging up or down hills and accelerating to the finish line,” Coach Ben Fusco said.

Each begins with activators and drills, and then leads to a run. The athletes usually either run the track or a trail run. Sometimes, they do weight training, especially if the weather is not suited for running. Practice ends with stretching.

Preparation for meets is similar.

“A typical meet consists of a bus ride to the course, activators (or stretches to activate the muscles), a set of drills, a course walk to get to know the trail, and then the actual race begins,” freshman Varsity runner Eva White said. “After the race, we do a ‘cool-down run,’ of 1-2 miles of slow running and end with a long set of stretches.”

“It’s a lot of commitment. We probably run 20 to 30 miles a week,” JV sophomore runner Margaret Doll said. “Since we run until 5 [o’clock] everyday, it takes up a lot of homework time. It’s a lot of work but it is really fun and that’s why I do it.”

White also agrees that the team means a lot of commitment.

“It’s hard to do cross country and do well in school,” White said. But overall, she achieves both.

“Perseverance is definitely the most important thing to have while running. You have to keep telling yourself to keep going. If you think you’re doing bad, just keep going or else you won’t improve,” Doll said.

Athletes strive to beat their own personal records each time that they compete, “PR’s” as they call them.

“Everyday they [the runners] show they want to improve and are willing to work hard,” Coach Fusco said.  “Coaching is an overall great experience as you get to help kids improve their skills in a team environment and work to make each other better.”

Coach Gallagher-Mohler, aka Coach S, returned this year to the coach the team. The 1999 CHS graduate coached Catonsville previously from 2003 to 2012. She took a 2-year break to be an assistant track coach at Loyola University, Maryland. But now she’s back and better than ever.

“Coach S, I like her a lot. She pushes us, she’s opened us up to new things, like stuff we’ve never done,” Doll says. “And she has gotten us more prepared and strong. It’s improved my running a lot.”

The team has been successful in their meets so far, and is striving to qualify and hopefully place in regional and state championships later in the season.