By Claire Mollak
The infamous “hill” awaited Elkhorn’s Cross Country team at the Fremont Invitational Wednesday. While some athletes despise the all-too-steep incline, others embrace the hill as a challenge. As many commonly refer to it’s steep rise: “it’s a hill: get over it.” Senior Jack Ward enjoys continuing a tradition of jumping off the hill before the beginning of each race. “It shows the team that the hill isn’t that scary,” Ward said. It was maybe the best single day of running we’ve ever had,” Wolf said. “The weather was an improvement and we ran hard, competitively.”
Elkhorn’s Girl’s team placed fifth and the boys winning sixth place. And so, the team presses on with much of the season yet unwritten. Hopes run high as their goal for improvement brings them closer and closer to achievement with every stride.
“Nobody said it would be easy, they just said it’d be worth it,” is the motto for this year’s cross country team. This was put to the test as hard work and dedication radiated from the runner’s just like the heat radiated from the afternoon sun during last Thursday’s Plattsmouth Invitational. Sophomore Michael Shavlik, said the high temperatures made for difficult running conditions. “[The heat] was terrible. It was 102 degrees out,” he said. The majority of runners ran slower that the team’s time trials, including Shavlik.
Coach Bob Wolf said the race went better than expected. “It went very well,” Wolf said. “Better than expected in both time and effort.”
While the scorching day affected everybody, one individual in particular was especially subjected to the brutality of the heat. Senior Ben Jensen collapsed in the middle of the race and was taken to the hospital where he was treated and released the same day.
But the team never did expect it to be easy and hope to rebound from the race and continue to make improvements. The obstacles are far from out of sight for this team as relentless races loom in their distance. Currently, two competitors struggle to get back in the race after unexpected setbacks. “We’re battling a couple injuries that have impacted the girls team,” said Coach Wolf. Runner Michaela Nordin is recovering from shin splints and Jenny Hill is doing her best to overcome a hip injury. The Waverly invite this Friday is hoped to provide the team with a much-needed lift after strenuous competition.
Continuing in the direction of improvement, Wolf still stresses the importance of making strides towards cutting times down but also hopes that the team can finish this Friday’s invite in the top five. The competition will be stiff, including teams like Pius and Seward who receive top rankings in the state every year. Coach Wolf said, “It’s like a preview to the state meet.”
Practices will not taper until much further into the season though. Wolf continues to run the athletes through the practices. The team will be tired for the invite on Friday but they will run longer and harder later in the season because of it. In accordance with their motto, while practice may not be easy, the reward at the finish line will be worth it.