In the recent district showdown, a brave group of runners climbed hills, fell in ditches, ran with flags, and painted themselves blue in the name of one of the least recognized sports at Johnson-cross country.
The district meet, qualifying teams for regionals, put pressure on the jags. Although the meet would be held at Johnson, the ‘home court advantage’ mentality was not a concern by other schools. Jag runners practiced the course countless times, proven by Johnson placing in every division.
“Being my last meet, districts was definitely nerve wracking and relieving at the same time. I wanted to give it my all so I could leave cross country knowing I tried my best and did everything I could,” senior Kayla Potter said.
The schedule of cross country is demanding, and few can accept the challenge of waking up at 5 every morning to run before the sun comes up.
“The thing I’ll carry with me for the rest of my life because of this sport is dedication. Waking up so early was a serious challenge at times, but I realized my commitment was more important and I was always happy when I went because my hard work paid off,” Potter said.
In a team of over one hundred runners, a strong team bond is seemingly unreachable. However, with team breakfasts every Friday and spaghetti dinners the night before a meet, cross country is one of the most unified groups at Johnson.
“Being apart of such a big team is great because you have all your teammates to push you through the race. You never feel alone here,” junior Ndu Gakunga said.
Spectators at a cross country meet find themselves running around the course following fellow jaguars to the finish. And although supporting the runners can be quite a workout, true fans can still be found out of breath hugging athletes after the race.
“I painted my body, ran with flags, and screamed until I couldn’t breathe. It was so fun and I’m happy we brought ‘The Jungle’ to the meet,” junior and dedicated fan Chris Welch said.