Senior Laments On High School Running Career

Running Track, Cross Country Rounded Out My High School Years
Running the first half of the mile, senior Wyatt Harris edges out an opponent.
Running the first half of the mile, senior Wyatt Harris edges out an opponent.
Photo Credit: Alex Bratton

From elementary, to middle and high school, sports are a popular after school activity, known to bring about and enhance the competitive and athletic spirit within students. Rather it be the struggle between basketball and football opponents, to proving who is the best with video games, it cannot be denied that sports are a major part of school. Two sports in particular, which may often be overlooked, are what have led me forward as a person and as an athlete combined. These two are cross country and track, which seem simple, but are quickly proved to not.

To some, competitive running is usually seen as one or the easiest sport, as it is only running a short distance, right? Through my years of partaking in both running teams, it is much more than just that. In every physical sport, there is more to competing than the eye can see. Constantly training your legs on an almost daily basis is the tip of the iceberg, as competitive running takes a buildup of endurance. To physically endure your legs to run a maximum of three miles, at a fast pace without stopping, it takes constant practice with only taking one day of the week off, having the ability to endure the pain that swiftly builds up in your body, increasing the capacity of your lungs and most importantly: having a proper, successful mindset. Still seem simple? 

I have been part of Sparkman High’s cross country team for six years; the maximum number of years possible, while competing on the track team for three.

Through these nine seasons of grueling work, it is easy to say it was all worth it. Making it to where I can run not just fast, but successfully, along with the friends I made along the way, all contributing to my future.

— Wyatt Harris

Even before I was qualified to be on the team, a strong spirit to run constantly burned within me. The minimum qualification to join the team was seventh grade, which I did not wait to start there.

My first experience running for Sparkman was in both third and fifth grade. Every year, the school hosts an elementary meet, for the local younger students to compete in a full-fledged competitive track meet. Through the people that tried out to be in the meet, I came out at the top, which already began to prove my ability of running. I decided to compete in the 1600 meter race; a full mile that took four laps around the track. It was still my first ever race, but I came out in fourth place. Since then, I was encouraged to join the cross country team when I could, which stuck with me as I waited for the time to come, while still competing in mile and three mile runs often.

Now as I look back at the past, with my Sparkman running career finished, I only think about what my younger self was getting into. Months of pain, success, hardships and joy, with some of it less desirable, but glorious in the end. It is impossible to say that I led myself alone, as every coach that trained me and the team were the most notable contributors. I now know that a good coach that only wishes for the team to succeed is one that pushes everyone. Putting in the maximum amount of work and effort possible, never to cease. I always stay thankful to the ones who led me up during this journey in my life. 

A team is more than people who are competing to win, it is a machine that must be tended to regularly. Each of the teammates are the gears and wires, only to efficiently run the machine if they put in the work to train and during meets. Then, the machine will run, experience and awards piling up around. Cross country and track are not just running, which everyone will soon find out, shortly after becoming part of the machine.

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