Girls Run the Show


Photo courtesy of Bob Gall.

(Above, left to right) Natalie Newman, grade 10; Taylor Johnson, grade 11; and Maria Evans, grade 11; turn the corner as they continue to try and push themselves to gain their team a high placement for this invitational. They have been practicing since the beginning of the summer to compete. Photo courtesy of Bob Gall.

Brady Conlin, Staff

Cross country is a very tough and grueling sport to do. There is a lot of hard work and dedication that goes into running competitively. Participants have to have the mindset and mentality to go through hardships for a very long period of time. Running long distances can be very challenging if athletes don’t learn the techniques of running and breathing, while also developing strong conditioning to be able to run at a highly efficient pace. A normal high school cross-country race is about 3.1
miles. That means team members run from Lake Highland to a little bit farther than Boone High School. That is crazy. The three-mile time for an average girl is around 30 minutes. The fastest run in girls cross coun-try history is held by Jenna Hutchins. Jenna Hutchins ran a sub-sixteen-minute three-mile run. That is insane. That is almost fifteen minutes below the average time for
a girl to run a three-mile run. Cross country is not always about being competitive; it is also used to get participants in some good shape for a primary sport. Girls cross country is led by head coach Gerald Spring. Coach Spring has been the girls cross-country
coach in total for Lake Highland for 19 years. But he has been a girls cross country coach for over 30 years. He has led the girls cross-country team to seven district titles, five region titles, and one state runner-up in 2007. The program qualified for the State Meet in both 2019 and 2020. Lake Highland Prep’s philosophy for girls cross country, according to Coach Spring, is to, “promote running as a lifetime sport in a true team atmosphere. Our sport truly is one where everyone who runs counts. No prior experience is necessary, and we encourage anyone to come out and try out for the team.” There are no cuts, and we have a Middle School, as well as a Varsity racing team. You may be a complete beginner, someone who wants to get in shape for another sport, or a competitive runner who has aspirations to run at the college level. All are welcome in our program! “Each athlete has their
own workout and mileage program created to best suit them and their experience,” Coach Spring said. For Coach Spring and his team, cross country is considered a year-round program. They start to ramp up the season during the summer so they can be all prepared for their meets starting in August. Coach Spring truly believes that cross country benefits all participants in life. He said, “As a lifelong sport it has great benefits – even those who don’t run in college continue to do road races and even marathons. It does not need much in the way of equipment, and you can run anywhere. It is one of the few sports where every runner counts!”
In terms of coaching style, Coach Spring brings a variety of styles to all different types of runners. He says that it depends on the individual runner that is presented in front of him. Coach Spring has a good amount of expectations set out for
his team of runners. He wants them to do well enough in districts and regions so they can qualify for the state championship just like they did in 2019 and 2020. In their first meet, the team didn’t do as well as expected. At the New World Golf Run, they took 25th out 40th. But they have picked up the high placements at other runs and invitationals such as the Winter Springs Invitational, the Astronaut Invite, Hagerty Invite, and the West Orange Invitational. The team has three more meets left until
they have districts, regions, and then hopefully, states.

Delaney Bolstein, grade 11, is a varsity runner for the girls cross country team. She has been running cross country for four years. She ran cross country in 7th and 8th grade took a break in 9th grade, and came back to it in 10th and now 11th grade. She
said, “I chose to run cross country because no other sports stuck, and I did not mind it.” She has a specific pre-run routine. She exclaimed, “I make sure to eat a carb heavy dinner and drink lots of water the night and morning before. We always do a warm up jog before the meet to stretch out and go over the course. Then, we do drills to get our heart rate up.” She truly believes that cross country will make her a better person in her everyday life. She said, “It has made me more disciplined. Running takes a lot of endurance mentally and physically, and I always use the same mindset for running as I do for life. It has also been a great stress reliever and a niceway to begin every day.”

There are different techniques and advantages that you need to use to be an effective cross-country runner. The first technique that athletes should use to improve your run game is to get the proper shoes. If runners can get spiked shoes they should wear them because it helps while running on softer surfaces such as grass or mud. But if runners can’t get spikes, they should get type of comfortable running shoes. Don’t run in basketball shoes such as Jordans or Lebrons. Another technique is to pace yourself from the start to the finish. A lot of people in the cross-country game want to start off strong by sprinting in the beginning to get off to that huge lead. But the better strategy is to pace yourself throughout so you can have energy in the tank, and sprint the end of the race. Another advantage is to stretch and warm up before you run. You want to make sure that you stay loose and warmed up so you can be at the top of your game when the race starts to begin. Another thing that you should do before running is to calm your nerves. Mindset can impact performance because it is so tough and so grueling.

(Above, left to right) Natalie Newman, grade 10; Taylor Johnson, grade 11; and Maria Evans, grade 11; turn the corner as they continue to try and push themselves to gain their team a high placement for this invitational. They have been practicing since the beginning of the summer to compete. Photo courtesy of Bob Gall. (Photo courtesy of Bob Gall.)
(Above) Mr. Gerald Spring has been the
girls cross coun-
try coach at Lake
Highland Preparatory school for 19 years. He has been
coaching cross
country for over
30 years. He has a
coaching style that
varies from runner
to runner and has
high expectations
for his team for the
rest of the season.
He wants the team
to do well enough
in districts and
regions, so they can
qualify for states.
Photo courtesy of (Photo courtesy of
(Above) Taylor Johnson, grade 11, pushes herself to finish the race and do well for her team, so her team can accomplish their ultimate goal of making the state tournament. Photo courtesy of Bob Gall. (Photo courtesy of Bob Gall.)