Experiencing states for the first time


XC team before heading to states

Haeleigh Bayle, Editor

The cross country state championships last Saturday was memorable in so many ways. Not only did us girls get to make fun memories and laugh super hard at times, but we also saw our determination pay off.

The long trip started out with the send-off by walking the halls, which was both memorable and one of the most uncomfortable things I have ever done in my entire life. After that we loaded into the school van, cranked our music (mainly Taylor Swift), and sang for a few hours until we stopped for our run and lunch. We got to run trails and enjoy the beautiful scenery, watching as the leaves fell in delicate swirls. We enjoyed lunch in the sun but had to put up with a chilly breeze. Of course we laughed the whole time and made plans for what fun snacks we’d eat after the meet Saturday, and then how late we’d stay up. We finished out our ride into Hershey with song-singing, laughs, and stories.

Once we got to the hotel, we decided to get dressed up and head out for dinner. Of course, picking Olive Garden as our dinner destination probably wasn’t the best idea, especially because every single runner was trying to carb-load the night before the most important race of the year. Needless to say, we got put on an hour wait, and once that hour was up, we got told to wait another hour. We entertained ourselves by walking through nearby stores, singing to music (again). Finally, at eight o’clock, we got a table–all hangry at this point–and stuffed ourselves with breadsticks and salad. By the time our main meals came, we were practically full, but managed to eat quite a bit. We finished up, loaded (yet again) into the vans, and made our way back to the hotel.

Because it was late, we decided to wash up, then try to get ready for bed, even though our nerves were high. It was hard to not stay up super late watching movies/eating junk Friday night, but with the right amount of self-discipline we agreed to head to bed at a semi-reasonable time. After a few distractions and running back and forth between rooms laughing hysterically (the cross country girls know what I’m talking about), we settled down and went to sleep.

At 6:30 a.m. the next morning my alarm blared, waking me up from a rather restless night’s sleep. Us girls got dressed, ate breakfast, packed our racing bags, and loaded into the van by 8:15. I could tell we were all very nervous, but we knew that being nervous was normal, and there is nothing you can do about it. Arriving at the meet was one of the most nerve-wracking things I have ever done. I felt as though I would hurl my breakfast and tried to silently calm myself down. I took some deep breaths, and slowly the urge to throw-up lessened slightly.

Before I knew it, we were standing on the line, silently waiting for the starter to drop the flag and shoot the gun off, indicating the start of the race. It almost happened in slow motion: the gun went off, the flag dropped, and I lunged forward. There was a still silence for the first second as all 250+ of us girls took off, but then the crowd roared, parents screamed, coaches hollered to “get to the outside,” grandmas jingled cowbells (it’s a real thing), and siblings clapped.

There was a huge mob of us (about 100) tightly packed, with me in the middle of this stampede. I tried working my way to the outside, dodging spikes, other runners, and flinging ponytails. Thankfully, as we rounded our first corner, I was able to start to break away from the mob–it had thinned down to about 50 girls at this point. We went up our first knoll, hit a sharp turn, and faced the first exceedingly large hill of three.

Pumping my arms, I dug my toes in and pushed up the hill. Once reaching the top I got to turn and fly down the other side. Another time we went up a ginormous hill and turned to glide down the other half–halfway down reaching the mile marker. I saw a girl completely wipe out and slide down the hill because it was so slippery, then jump up and fall back into rhythm almost seamlessly. The last two miles went by in a blur, and I found myself crossing the finish line, out of breath, sick to my stomach, and so proud of how we did.

I was caught up in a flurry of people and walked for what seemed like forever to try and find some of my team members. I found Kalista, who was also looking for everyone, and together we found a few of the others. Over the next few minutes we were all able to regroup. Hugging was inevitable as we celebrated our tenth-place finish. Sweatshirt buying and cheering on Steven as he ran were next on the bucket list, so we made sure to be at the appropriate spots when needed and smiled our whole way through everything.

After the meet, we got ready and headed to the Hershey Amusement Park, where we rode rides from 3-9 at night. We did some crazy ones, but some incredibly fun ones, too! By the time we got back to the hotel, we were just plain worn out but not ready to give in to sleep quite yet. We gathered into one room, each wrapped up in a blanket after hot showers and ate snacks, shared testimonies, and watched a movie. And of course, because it was daylight savings, we just had to stay up until 2:00 a.m. to watch the clock turn back to one. We settled into our beds after that, all completely content with the weekend we had together. I couldn’t have thought of one negative thing to say about the whole day even if I tried!

Needless to say, going to states this year was one thing I will never forget. It wasn’t necessarily the fact that I ran at states that made the long weekend so memorable, but more than that, I got the opportunity to spend time with my team who are now more like my sisters. Although we will all be graduating (some sooner than others), we will never forget the memories and laughs (and tears) we shared together. Once a team, always a team.