Never lonely with x-country
June 9, 2008 · Updated 7:36 PM
"Cross-country is more than just running. It's about the balance between the team and the individual, relying on others and relying on oneself.To some extent, you get this in all sports, said Richard Christopher, coach of the Bainbridge High School cross-country team, but in cross-country, you really have to dig down inside to get the courage to compete. It can be pretty scary to dig that deep sometimes.Though runners cross the finish line alone, cross-country scoring is done on a team basis, requiring strategy and trust.Normally, seven runners compete for each team. The first five to finish score, while runners six and seven affect the scoring, bumping runners behind them on the other team up the point scale.For example, if the seventh runner for Bainbridge finishes before the fifth runner for Central Kitsap, CK's runner has to take extra points. Then the scores are added, and the team with the lowest total wins.It's not just, 'Let's go out and run three miles and see what happens,' Christopher said. It's more complicated than that, but then, it's also really simple because each person is basically running with themselves.The inner games a person plays are also a factor: When should I overtake the next runner? how do I negotiate obstacles? and can I even finish? are questions runners ask often ask themselves.Different courses of the same length can be really different, really hard, Christopher said. You know you're in trouble when the hills have names, like 'Suicide Hill' or 'Goat Hill.'It may surprise some who imagine that the loneliest competitor is the long-distance runner, that the aspect of cross-country mentioned most often by the Bainbridge runners is team spirit.I don't particularly like running, said junior Kathryn Bergh, but the group of people is really nice, they give it a great atmosphere.Senior Anna Greist agreed.My favorite thing is the team atmosphere, she said. They're really supportive, and the whole thing isn't just about winning.The Bainbridge team scored well in its first meet, against Olympic and Central Kitsap. The boys won, while the girls didn't have enough runners to qualify.BHS runners Evan Galloway and Andy Reese finished first and second overall in the race, at 12:45 and 13:09, respectively. Of the top seven, four were from Bainbridge, two from Central Kitsap and one from Olympic.Bainbridge scored 18-41 against Olympic and 21-38 against Kitsap, giving them the win.If you do what you're supposed to do and give 100 percent, the winning will take care of itself, Christopher told the team during a recent practice.Senior Luke Preble thinks doing what you're supposed to do is a strength among the type of athletes cross-country attracts. Many would-be cross-country runners leave the team, intimidated by the workouts.A sprinter on the track team, Preble hears a lot of complaints from fellow sprinters who don't want to train strenuously. But cross-country participants, he says, are not only willing to run, but love to run.In other sports, coaches make you run as a punishment, Preble said. On this team, there are some people who, if they don't run every day, start to feel weird. "