Cross Country September-October


John LeSage ‘20

Cross country is one of those sports which doesn’t get canceled by the Powers that Be for anything less than the Apocalypse. Our last few meets certainly pushed that limit.

The Garey Horner Invitational was held on an early Saturday morning well to the south of Dallas. The course itself was rather difficult, consisting of many sharp turns, ups and downs, and a grueling stretch along pavement that is one of the worst things any runner can experience (just ask). However, the Hawks rose to the occasion admirably, and we turned in some of our best times there. Our top three runners there were Luke Rakowitz (18:15), Alex Smith (18:18), and Bradyn Smith (18:35). The varsity team placed second, and JV placed fifth. With that, we put another back-breaking meet behind us, tallied another piece of hardware, grabbed a few medals in the process, and set our sights for the upcoming week.

After an intense training regimen that week, the team prepared for the next meet, looking forward to vanquishing the competition as usual. Unfortunately, Mother Nature had other plans. After days of holding their breath, the skies burst forth in a deluge not seen since Noah. The course became a lake, and (sadly), the meet had to be canceled.

The effects of the rain continued throughout the next week. After the planned meet that week was flooded out (again), the team’s sights turned towards the Paschal Invitational way out west in Fort Worth. The infamous course lay in the middle of a ranch, complete with gravel, long and steep hills, and innumerable cow patties. To top the debacle off, it was pouring rain (again) during the meet and the course became better suited for a Slip-and-Slide. Nevertheless, we all shrugged and said, “What rain?” Competing against at least 25 other teams, some from 6A schools, the Hawks performed superbly. JV finished 10th and Varsity took a close 6th; timewise, our top three runners there were John LeSage (18:19), Nico Walz (18:24), and Alex Smith (18:33).

With Homecoming fast approaching, the Hawks knew they had to knock a meet out of the park. The answer lay with the W.T. White Invitational, which was about as much the previous meet’s opposite as you can get. The course was largely flat, and part of it even overlapped a running track. To make matters even better, it was at Brookhaven College, only a few minutes from some runners’ homes. This was a welcome change from going out to the fringes of the metroplex, where all meets inevitably end up. The only problem, really, was a glaring lack of course markers. To find their way, the runners were stuck using a combination of best guesses and the conflicting directions of the race officials (“Turn left!” “No, sorry, right!”) Because of this, a large pack got so confused that they started running the complete opposite way they were supposed to go. Thankfully, they were able to correct themselves and keep going.

With near-prime conditions, the Hawks were poised to fly. And right in the middle of Homecoming weekend, with Cistercian spirit through the roof, that was just what they did. They turned in some of the most impressive times that they had ever seen. Although the course was later re-measured and unofficially determined to be less than a 5K, the times remain astounding. John LeSage turned in a 16:32, Nico Walz ran a 16:53, and Max Rogers closed out the top three with a 16:54. Even if adding a minute or so to compensate for the “shortened” distance, nearly all the runners had personal bests for the season. Both Varsity and JV placed second, and even Middle School showed up strong by getting third. The meet was a resounding success on all levels.

Now, with yet another meet on the horizon, the Hawks look forward to excelling once again. And this time, we hope that we won’t get another Slip-and-Slide for a course.