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Cross Country Win at the SEC Championships!

WOHS Cross Country

On Tuesday Oct. 16, the West Orange Cross Country team dominated the course at the SEC Championships. Girls champion, freshman Ava Neretic crossed the finish line at an astonishing 19:58 time. Neretic says getting a sub-20 time has been her goal for the season and she’s extremely proud of her progress. She says that as she ran through the line, the only thing she was thinking of was, “Don’t let your training be for nothing! Don’t let this race be for nothing!” Upon crossing the line, she was so tired that her mind just went…blank. But the race isn’t just about how you run, but it’s also about how you prepare yourself. Before races, Ava tries to stay locked into the moment as she warms up. When on the line, she repeats inspirational messages to herself in order to hype herself up. “I know it sounds a little silly, but it actually works!! I think it motivates me to drive my legs just that little bit further, out of my comfort zone, and I really think it helped me reach sub-20!”

Coming in with a 18.14 time, senior Henry Pfeifer, took the cake home, securing the title of Individual champion. “This was my 20th and final time racing at this course so I put everything I had into this race. When I came to the final stretch, I had nothing on my mind but pushing through as fast as I could to be the first to the line.” Pfeifer says that cross country is painful mentally, so once warm-ups are finished, it becomes a mental battle. He pictures the finish line to keep on moving and says, “fatigue and pain is just a part of the race, and the faster I run the faster it’s over.” Henry says Coach Jackson is one of the most important parts of his improvements. “He runs probably more miles than we do throughout the course of a meet to catch us at different points throughout the course, where he tells us our splits and cheers us on.” In his upcoming meets, he hopes to see a PR of 17:30-17:40.

From providing difficult (but helpful) practices, to being their number one cheerleader, Coach Jackson is one of the key members of the cross country team. Coach’s practices start in the summer, working mainly towards better endurance. Those practices consist of runs anywhere between 20 and 75 minutes. During the school year, practices are varied. They consist of hills, tempo work, speed work, and both steady state and long runs. Coach Jackson had high expectations for the SEC Championships, for both the girls and boys divisions. He mentions that some of their student athletes are able to advance out of the first round of state competitions and medaling at the county championships. He’s aiming to achieve both by staying consistent and working on the little things. Coach Jackson gives some advice to all the new and old runners out there saying, “Running is a sport you can love or learn to love, and it’s something you can do for the rest of your life. So embrace the process of getting better and always understand it’s a race against yourself and the clock; other athletes just happen to be doing the same thing you’re doing at the exact same time you’re doing it!”

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About the Contributor
Emily Rintzler, Student Jounalist
Emily Rintzler is a sophomore at West Orange High School. She participates in the soccer, bowling, and lacrosse programs at school. She loves watching movies, her favorites being “Good Will Hunting” and “American Beauty”. Recently, she’s taken an Intro to Journalism class where she found a genuine love for interviewing.   Still unsure of what she’d like to do for work, Emily definitely wants to pursue a career that allows her time and money to travel and see different parts of the world. Music is one of Emily’s favorite things. Some of her most-played artists include Adele, A$AP Rocky, and Beach House. Emily believes in enjoying the moments while they last and staying relaxed. You can reach out to her at [email protected].

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