Many people may think cross country is an individual sport while others say it is a team sport.
Cross-country coach Landon Bright, however, believes the sport to be both an individual and team sport.
“Obviously, you are competing on an individual level, but your team relies on you every race so you have to show up,” Bright said.
“There is no hiding on the race course.”
Matthew Hopkins, a senior on the men’s cross country team, agrees.
According to Hopkins, the whole team matters on race day.
Each runner’s individual placement contributes to the team placement because each opposing runner who is passed bumps up the team’s potential score.
At the same time, however, all the runners must battle themselves, pushing to beat their own personal record.
A team’s placement in a race depends on its first five members to finish.
The place a runner finishes equals the number of points a runner receives.
Once the top five runners of a team’s points are added, the team’s score is produced. That number is then used to determine the team’s placement in the race.
Although both a team and individual sport, cross-country still requires teams to work together.
Sarah Sheridan, a junior on the team, said the women’s team has gotten stronger since her freshman year.
Sheridan said more women have joined this year, times have gotten faster and the team has competed better together.
“We kind of balance each other,” Sheridan said.
The teams do a variety of activities together, including team practices.
Freshman team member Hannah Peterson described the team’s training as varied.
“The practices are very early in the morning, which makes for some interesting conversations,” Peterson said.
“We do core workouts at least once a week in the afternoons, usually on a Tuesday or Wednesday, depending on individual schedules.”
For every practice, Bright lets the runners know ahead of time what the practice will entail and how fast he expects the them to run.
“It’s a mix of easy, moderate and harder workouts depending on the day,” Bright said. “For a harder workout, we might do repetitions of 1,000 meters with around three minutes of rest at our goal race pace.”
Many of the cross-country runners have attested to the Christlike demeanor Bright has as he coaches.
According to the them, Bright differs from the coaches of other teams in that he doesn’t scream and yell from the sidelines.
Rather, they said, he encourages them and calmly lets them know what’s happening around them.
According to sophomore Joe Patchen, Bright has a good balance between being easy going and pushing the team members to succeed.
“I really like to make sure the athletes have an intrinsic motivation to improve,” Bright said.
So far this season, the team has enjoyed success.
The teams started the season off strong. At their opening meet, the men’s team placed third and the women’s team placed second.
The men’s and women’s team then placed first and second, respectively, in the Warrior Cross Country Invitational.
The Bruins placed second at their most recent meet, the Koala Classic.
According to Bright, the first races were run on more difficult courses, so the times were not in the personal record range for the runners.
However, the team is healthy and has a great attitude, so they are looking forward to the rest of the season.
The team hopes to maintain a positive thought process this season and beat their personal records.
Together, Bright and the men’s and women’s cross-country teams aim to race to the finish line of the national championships Nov. 11.