MILTON, Ga. – Cross country running is all about endurance. The 69 runners (30 boys, 39 girls) who formed the 2013 Cambridge Bears cross country team were up well before the sun on Saturday mornings this fall, traveling to meets all over metro Atlanta where they ran a 5K race, rain or shine, over grass, mulch and dirt trails, through water and mud, up and down steep hills and rocky areas.
The physical demands were punishing, but ultimately rewarding as the runners grew faster and formed strong friendships in the process.
Personal records were set, medals were won and the Bears proved to be a formidable opponent as the season progressed.
Though a young team overall, the Bears competed in a full varsity, junior varsity and open schedule of races for both boys and girls, and there were a number of individual varsity medalists: Bjorn Leicher (personal record of 16 minutes, 36 seconds), K.J. Hirschi (17:05), Caroline Willis (20:35) and Lily Neibur (20:34).
Coach Chris Magill said the team as a whole improved tremendously this year.
“This was a very rewarding season for us as we saw constant positive growth with all of our runners,” Magill said. “I think they accomplished more than they thought possible. “From the beginning of August, with a lot of students not being able to complete a 5K, our team really showed a lot of heart and willpower to set and achieve goals for themselves,” he said. “In addition to this, I cannot express how proud I am of all these kids. As enjoyable as it is to succeed athletically with this sport, it’s even better to see everyone conduct themselves very well and represent the school and community in a positive way. I’ve had coaches and parents of other schools mention to me how pleased they were at what they saw in our team’s behavior, and we coaches are all really thankful for that.”
The Bears were able to train on their home turf this fall thanks to the newly installed Cambridge cross country trail. Teammates conducted fundraisers to help build more than 3 miles of trails and bridges, encompassing the entire high school campus.
Looking ahead to next year, the coaches are eager to build on what was accomplished this year.
“We want to keep the great team chemistry formed this fall. With our entire team returning, plus more new runners on board for next year, we expect to contend for state in 2014,” said Magill.