Feeling the Heat

Lottie Gidal, News and Sports Editor

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Cross-country runners at the 2018 Heartland Classic pushed past more than just their competitors on Saturday; the 98-degree heat index forced many athletes past their point of endurance.

“I was expecting better,” Cece Kelly-Harvey ‘21 said. “People started cutting me off but I just tried to keep going. I could not complete the race; I dropped out at mile two from dehydration.”

At least five athletes in the varsity boys race alone were taken to the emergency room after their race, and the meet saw at least 15 others faint from the heat. Kelly-Harvey was competing in her first ever varsity race, and was positioned fifth on the team when she dropped out.

“I’m over it. I didn’t finish and I can’t take it back, so I’m just looking forward to next week,” Kelly-Harvey said.

In an unprecedented season in which four of the six scheduled meets so far have been canceled, many athletes are itching to compete.

“It’s really frustrating not being able to race, just because it’s our senior year and everyone wants to improve and enjoy the meet one last time,” Ella Hennager ‘19 said.

For seniors, the cancellation of meets means not being able to revisit courses at which they have spent years racing.

“The course I will definitely miss the most is Noelridge,” Hennager said. “Every year everyone looks forward to it and it’s a PR course, so it’s so great to see everybody be happy with their times and racing fast, so I’ll definitely miss that experience.”

The Heartland Classic was the first meet of the season for most runners, so frustration was high when less than ideal racing conditions did not allow for a satisfactory first race. Despite this, runners found a way to look on the bright side.

“For a lot of us this was our first meet, so we did get back into the groove of how to run a race,” Yasar Hassan ‘19 said. “The heat really did help us push ourselves in a way where we are now more comfortable pushing our limits. Every time you push your limits, you can push yourself a little further every time. I think that was definitely true for this meet and I think we will be able to show our guts next time.”

The heat really did help us push ourselves in a way where we are now more comfortable pushing our limits. Every time you push your limits, you can push yourself a little further every time. I think that was definitely true for this meet and I think we will be able to show our guts next time.”

— Yasar Hassan '19

Hassan’s positive attitude towards the race was one shared by many of the other students on the teams.

“I just put myself in the mindset where I tried to be positive no matter what happened,” Mary Bounds ‘20 said. “It was really hot out so it was easy to put yourself in a negative mindset about the race but I just tried my hardest to stay positive and look on the bright side of things.”

The varsity girls placed 12th in a field of 30 other teams, with the JV girls finishing third overall. Varsity boys placed 23rd, and JV left with a 10th place finish. The girls team is looking to improve their spot in the rankings.

“I think at the varsity level once we put the pieces together and get everyone feeling good on the right day, we’re going to move on up the rankings even further,” Ryan Ahlers, co-head coach, said.

Leading the varsity is freshman Rowan Boulter, who broke the record for the fastest time in City High history in her very first 5K race at time trials.

“I was so happy. I was just really surprised at first, I just had no clue that was going to happen,” Boulter said. “Honestly, when I finished, I just assumed that I was pretty normal.”

Boulter admits to being a little intimidated coming into the sport as a freshman athlete, but said that the team environment has made up for it.

“Definitely right away I felt like there was all this pressure since I got first for the team, I felt like I was going to have to get first every race,” Boulter said. “I don’t really feel as much pressure after talking to coaches and other runners. Everybody is just so positive; [they say,] ‘You’ll do great no matter your time or what your place is,’ so I don’t feel as much pressure anymore which is nice. Just overall, I love the season. Running just makes me so happy. Having such an amazing team, it makes me even happier.”

The boys are also experiencing a number of freshmen and sophomore athletes making their mark on varsity. Freshmen Parker Max, Sullivan Hall, and Elliot Dunwald have each been racing at a varsity level this season.

“I want the underclassmen to work hard, and have fun, and do better,” captain Josh Fletcher ‘19 said. “The freshmen on varsity show a lot of great promise for three or four years from now when they will be able to run this team as seniors. I’m excited to see what they can do the rest of this season.”

With only four opportunities to compete left in the season for most runners, the coaches are excited to see what they can push themselves through.

“I’m very proud of everyone that started and finished their races today, especially in those conditions,” Ahlers said. “There’s not a lot of people who can do that, and maintain a good positive mental attitude about it. That’s why this team is awesome, and it’s what we’re going to keep doing, no matter the weather, no matter the course, no matter whatever it is, we gotta keep doing it and it will be fun to watch.”