The Student News Site of Enloe Magnet High School

Enloe Eagle's Eye

The Student News Site of Enloe Magnet High School

Enloe Eagle's Eye

The Student News Site of Enloe Magnet High School

Enloe Eagle's Eye

Behind The Scenes of Enloe Cross Country

Photos taken by Phil Ellsworth
Photos taken by Phil Ellsworth

No one likes running. No one. It’s painful, always long, and taunts you for days through aching joints and blistered feet. Yet, here at Enloe, we have an entire team of students who willingly devote their time to running miles, every day. Why is that? The bell dismisses most of us home, but the cross country team makes their way down to the track, where they spend the rest of their afternoon sweating and pounding concrete. Is there a pot of gold at the end? No! The only prize they get is to say they’ve finished. 

This all begs one big blaring question: Is there something more to cross country than what meets the eye? Trying to get to the bottom of this, I decided there was no better way to learn than to find out firsthand. So I joined XC for a day to see what this runner’s high was really all about. 


Out on the track, the team runs a couple of laps as a warm-up, then follows up with dynamic stretching. What could be grueling for those with nonexistent running patterns is a typical day at practice. Surveying the crowd, teammates share their predictions. Who will throw up first? Who will pass out? How were these people happy when they had six miles to run? I asked Mimi Sonawane, a junior who’s been on the team since her freshman year, how frequently her team suffers. “I’d say like maybe one person on the team might throw up every given workout, depending on the intensity.” 

Despite the physical strain required of runners, something must bring these students back to the track every day. Looking for answers, I talked to sophomore Shailen Fofaria about his own improvement in the sport.


“The first 5K I ran, I ran a 30 minute. I’m at 20 now. But before I couldn’t even go for, like, a mile run. I was so embarrassed, but I put that work in.”

The self-improvement is a clear motivation for many teammates. Josephine Thomas, a senior and team captain, has a similar relationship with running. 

“[Cross country] really helps me channel some frustrations with like, literally anything. It helps me mentally a lot you know, like the endorphins [and] the sense of pride and achievement you get from finishing a race, or just a regular run. It’s very what’s it called? Fulfilling? Fulfilling.”


The sense of pride that motivates the team is prevalent in more than just statistics. Many members of the men’s team show up to practice in colorful highlighter-esque running shorts, allowing them to underline the track like it’s a good quote. Thomas said competing for the brightest/craziest shorts was “a bit of an unspoken rule.” Griffin McHugh, a senior and fellow captain, added “The good runners just do it. You can’t get away with wearing them unless you’re a good runner.” 


As the rationale behind running for fun was finally starting to piece itself together, harsher words on the sport were shared when I actually began to run with the team: “Our sport is other sports punishment.”, said Dasha Kountikov, junior and third-year XC member.

Natalie Ross, a freshman, said “I believe this is the hardest sport. Have you ever tried pacing yourself? Because you can’t go too slow because then you’re not doing your best, but you can’t go too fast or you’ll tire yourself. You have to do [it] all by yourself. It’s all a mental thing. It’s all in your head.” 


Grimaced and reddened, the runners’ faces blew past me on the track. Others doubled over in pain trying to catch their breath. At that moment the commitment and perseverance of the team were palpable. Their exhaustion and sometimes hate toward the sport can be clear. Yet, what is even clearer is the community they create, pushing themselves and each other every practice.


Kountikov recounted “The team is amazing. Everybody welcomes you, it’s not like anyone is mean here. Everybody welcomes you, no matter how slow you are.”

It took a run around campus and an afternoon with the team to learn just how true Kountikov’s words are. Enloe’s cross-country team has more than just the mentality to become a better, stronger team. They have a mindset that creates a level of affinity that is hard to force onto a team. Some just have it, and Enloe’s XC most certainly does. 


Whether it be running through sprinklers, listening to VeggieTales on the way to meets, or getting food together after a Saturday morning run, Enloe Cross Country has a dynamic unlike any other sports team at Enloe. And yes, they are proud that they spend their weekends running.


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About the Contributor
Ellie Maguire
Ellie Maguire, Executive Editor
(She/her) Ellie is a senior at Enloe and a proud member of the Eagle's Eye staff! She is involved in various communities at Enloe, including dance, theatre, and diving, as well as being obnoxiously loud at all Enloe sporting events. If you ask her to do the worm at any given time she definitely will, but you can bribe her to do almost anything else with a pickle and Diet Dr. Pepper.
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