Revamped Training Program at XC

With loss of star, cross country is rebuilding


Submitted by Cleo Kilpatrick

Both girls and boys Cross Country teams huddle together after their muddy race in Decorah IA at Luther College.

This is the first year the cross country team is competing without their star runner of the past few years, Shef West ‘22. Despite rebuilding with a “young” team, they are persevering and gearing up for what looks to be a competitive and exciting season.

Captain Will Eckes ‘24 explains, “[During the summer] we had two school run practices and two captains practices a week and we tried to get enough kids going there so that everyone was ready for the season.” 

This work has continued throughout the fall as Eckes furthers, “Right now practices are Monday through Friday. They start at 3:45 and they end, I don’t know when, or just to be determined. 

“We have captains’ practices on Saturday morning if there’s not a meet and those start at 9 a.m. Then on those captains’ practices, we do a long run so we try and run far, and then most of the other practices are a mix between easy runs and recovery runs and then workouts.”

The workouts, which shape how the season will go for many runners, have changed from past years. Eckes notes, “we really changed up our training style this year and like I said we’re doing a lot of longer workouts earlier in the season so we haven’t really touched anything faster yet which is just different than what we’ve done. The results are kind of speaking for themselves, a lot of people are running fast early in the season which is usually not what happens so that’s good.” 

Assistant Coach Patrick Barry explains, “Had we spread out meets throughout the season leading right up until Conference, you know and I think my sense is that this is what maybe happened last year, the team was fatigued and flat. This model is with the aim of yeah still getting races in but having a break.”

Despite losing West, Captain Zoe Edinburgh ‘23 notes, “I think people have a different connotation towards cross country that it’s an individual sport but it is very much a team sport. Seven people race but only five people score so you need all five people to do well.” 

Thus the team is looking for an abundance of talented athletes. Eckes adds that so far the girl’s team has been performing well, they are currently in the running for winning their conference meet. 

Barry notes, “We had a meet last Wednesday [9/14] but now we have, I want to say, a 3-week gap before Conference, Sections, and State, and that’s by design so we can cut back on the racing so we can really develop our fitness through training so that when we do get to Conference and Sections we’re really fresh.”