Cross country: It's not always about winning
Indian River High School’s boys’ cross-country team is currently 1-4, while the girls are 0-4, but they’re running with a good attitude. Head coach Frank Ryman said his goal is for at least one IR runner to break into other team’s top five runners. They didn’t quite make that goal in the Oct. 1 tri-meet against Cape Henlopen and Caesar Rodney, but they kept moving. Caesar Rodney’s boys and girls beat IR, 15-50, while the Cape boys won 15-48 and Cape girls won 15-50 (top runners earn a lower score).
Aline Check Guzman was a top female finisher for IR. Although the freshman had a sore ankle, she sprinted hard for the finish line.
“I heard the coach from the other team saying, ‘Try to beat her, try to beat her,’ so I was, like, ‘I can’t let her beat me,’” said Guzman. “So then I just took everything out of my mind and tried to forget everything.”
Guzman charged across the finish line ahead of that competitor. It just goes to show that she has come a long way from her first meet, in which she slowed down just before finishing.
“All my life, I’ve never been good at running, ’til this year. Taite [Daisey] made me do it for soccer in the spring,” said Guzman. “I’ve been running all summer, and since the first day, I saw improvement each time. I felt more relieved and less stressed, and I feel like I can focus more, in school and in running.”
“They get close to the finish, and they go into hyperdrive,” said Ryman. “That’s how we train. That’s what I expect. Push it hard to the end. It’s OK to collapse after you cross the line.”
And plenty of runners do collapse at the end, gasping for air or water. Top IR runner Will McCabe explained how he approached the 3.1-mile Cape Henlopen course, located near University of Delaware’s marine center.
“This course has got a lot more of on-the-pavement,” McCabe said. “You have to be careful how you’re running. You really want to make sure you’re not planting as hard, so you don’t cause stress on your muscles … instead of pounding on the pavement.
The junior said this was one of his better races, despite it being his first time on the Cape course.
“Cross-country’s been a great learning experience for all of us,” said McCabe. “It helps build character, it’s healthy, it’s good for you ... we have fun doing it. We enjoy running as a group. We enjoy running together.
“We’ve made a lot of improvements,” he added. “Donald [Hattier]’s the fastest freshman I’ve known. He pushes me.”
McCabe said runners meet many new people and friends on the team and at other schools.
Ryman had also noted that the cross-country team seems to attract high academic achievers.
“That’s another uniqueness to the sport. It seems to attract those folks. The work ethic, the character, the drive, commitment, determination you need to run 3.2 miles transfers over into their academic excellence,” Ryman said.
Against Polytech High School on Sept. 26, the IR boys lost 17-48, while the girls had a closer competition, narrowly defeated at 26-30. At the Sept. 19 meet, Dover beat the IR boys 22-34 and the girls 15-43.
IR will host Lake Forest on Wednesday, Oct. 10, at 4 p.m. The Indians will run at home again on Wednesday, Oct. 17, at 4 p.m. versus Milford and Sussex Central high schools.