Cross Country’s new route to success


Photo by True Van Dyke

Cross Country runners race against the sun.

True Van Dyke, Features Editor


Full of early mornings, challenging meets, and team-bonding, OHS Cross Country heads into their season hopeful and rejuvenated. The effort they are pouring into this year’s season is sure to lead them far. 

A change in coaching staff and new runners has set off the team with a newfound motivation and determination for success, all while appreciating the connections that they have made amongst themselves. 

“We’re all at practice [at] five am, and spend most of our day with each other, so it’s like a family,” said Macy Ellis, sophomore. 

It is undeniable that the bonds built while running can’t be replicated anywhere else, the interaction that takes place in cross country differing from other sports through their intricate community and training methods. 

“I run with the kids; I train with the kids. It’s what helps me build relationships,” said Kellen Chavez, head coach. 

A coach’s route for success can make or break a team. The adjustment of his assistant coach position to head coach, for Kellen Chavez, has only been well received by the returning runners. 

“[It’s an] internal battle that I go through everyday, but I also appreciate the coaches support,” said James Wenzel, sophomore. 

The majority of the team feels pushed to a whole new level this season, motivating them for all of their future meets, no matter the challenges. 

“It is hard to get used to running, and [it is] hard to get used to running faster and pushing yourself, because I definitely didn’t really push myself before this [season],” said Amelia Alexander, freshman. 

As the season springs forward, the runners are getting back into the rhythm of it all, their first meet inspiring new standards for themselves individually, but also the team as a whole. 

“I didn’t do as good as I wanted to, but I have a goal for [the] next meet that I want to get,” said Jaycee Hanna, junior. 

Regardless of how they started out, the team and the coaches maintain a positive outlook for the rest of the season.

“Our boys should be pretty competitive by the end of the year. [For the] girls, we have a lot of new kids trying it out, but all that really matters is that they enjoy the process and take pride in their improvements,” Chavez said. 

The players themselves are incredibly determined so far, motivated to go as far as possible this season and to succeed at the rest of their meets. 

“[I think] it’ll go good, [we’re] trying to make the whole team go to state [this year],” said Mario Fernandez, senior. 


It is not just members of varsity who are confident in the team’s success this year; returning and new runners on JV are equally motivated to compete to the best of their abilities this season. 

“We have a much better team than last year, I think we have a chance at competing at state,” said Luca Calero, sophomore. 

OHS cross country does not just get competitive against other schools, but even within their own team. The fluidness of their ranking system allows for friendly competition and running level adjustments. 

“This season is much more competitive than last season, because I’m working for varsity,” Calero said. 

With all the change that this season has brought onto returning members, it is a whole different kind of adjustment for new runners this year. While the training alone is difficult to get used to, meets are another very unique experience to be a part of for the first time. 

“[The first meet] was a little bit intimidating but I had a lot of people that had done it before to kind of tell me what to do, and the coach is really good about kind of telling you what you’re supposed to be doing,” said Delani Dermer, junior. 

Regardless of when they joined, most cross country runners can agree with the difficulty and will power that it takes to actively compete in the sport. 

“[While at the first meet], it didn’t really feel like I was running three miles, it just felt like I was running forever, and I kind of wanted to die while doing it, but then after, I felt accomplished,” Alexander said. 

The outcome is well worth the effort that has to be put into the very competitive sport, but many people lack the tenacity that comes with participating in cross country. 

“I liked the team aspect, and I know most people don’t like running, but I [think] it [is] kind of fun,” Wenzel said. 

Overall, the hope, motivation, and fun that is being produced within the cross country team this season is sure to take them far, and bring them much in return. 

“We have something called sectionals, which is how we qualify for state, so it would be awesome to perform well there, but really I just hope the kids feel good about themselves when it’s all said and done,” Chavez said.