Cross Country is Done


Photo Credit: Coach Roane

John LeSage, Writer

The Final Countdown. The Big S. The meets that St. Mark’s always wins. Those are just some of the many nicknames for two meets that brought together the strongest, fastest, toughest runners from across the Southwest Preparatory Conference.

SPC North Zone was held this year in an unusual location, Oklahoma City, on a freezing day towards the end of October. The Hawks were ready for the action, but a little nervous about what the distant location and difficult SPC schools would do to us. Nonetheless, the three-hour bus ride and dinner at Olive Garden created great bonds among the runners. They made jokes, told stories, and possibly set a world record for the number of bread sticks ordered at the restaurant.  Coach Roane made sure, however, that the team’s focus was directed toward the race.  Despite the filling dinner, we retired that night still hungry for success.

In the glaring morning light, the North Zone course looked promising–completely flat. The cold air was bracing and filled the Hawks with a desire to go out and get the thing over with so they could climb back into the heated bus. All seemed perfect as the gun went off–until the runners hit mud. Lots of mud. Nevertheless, it didn’t slow the team down too much, thanks to the strength garnered from the punishing workouts of the previous few weeks. After the runners, the team was rather dismayed to find they had only come in 5th out of 7 (with a very small gap between that and 3rd). That said, the times remained quite impressive. The top three Cistercian runners were John LeSage (18:03), Nico Walz (18:19), and Luke Rakowitz (18:23), who all finished in the top 20.
The Hawks got the chance for revenge two weeks later, on an even colder day back in Dallas, on a course everyone shudders to think of: Norbuck Park. The infamous hill at the last sprint of the race is a regular feature in cross country runners’ nightmares. However, we are the Hawks. We can run through anything. Coach Roane even gave the team an extra-painful dose of hills to practice the week before just to reveal that it was going to be hard.

However, we were motivated to succeed. Our disappointing finish still stung even two weeks later, and it was the seniors’ last race ever. They had confidently and humorously led the team the entire season, and they were looking to close of their careers with a bang. As for the rest of us, we were just ready to finish the season. The Cistercian community showed up in force to support us. We had several moms and dads, and almost all four Form Masters made the trek, which I don’t think has happened in an SPC in recent memory. It just goes to show how much the support for cross country has grown under Coach Roane.

Under the cold skies of winter, the race was off. Sixteen teams ran, all in search for the title of SPC Champion. Cistercian, seeking to firmly establish a foothold in the top 10 of the division, ran as they had never run before. Despite the hills, mud, and a few runners falling, the Hawks came up at the finish line with our best finish in recent memory, placing an impressive 9th out of 16. Even more astonishing, two runners broke the elusive eighteen-minute barrier. Nico Walz and John LeSage ran a 17:46 and 17:54 respectively, and Ethan Ramchandani closed out the top three with a blazing 18:17. Nearly all the runners set personal bests, and the team was able to send the seniors off as they had hoped. They will be missed next year. And so, with high hearts and aching feet, we closed yet another successful season.