Girls cross country doing well, season ending soon

Just a few days into fall, the girls cross country team’s season is near its end. The team heads off to District Oct. 10 at Old Settlers Park and then to Regionals Oct. 23 at the Woodlands in Houston. To prepare, the team is up and running at 7 each morning, six days a week. Depending on whether they run for JV or varsity, the girls run a total of 25-30 miles every week.

“I put intensive hours into training to be able to do my best in the meets,” JV runner freshman Lauren Ogilvie said.

Practices usually take place at the Westlake track or in Zilker Park. The team runs a variety of workouts, from five-to-seven-mile runs at Lady Bird Lake, to sprints, or working out in the weight room.

“Our cross country team is off to a great start,” coach Patrick Lantzy said. “Our JV team is currently undefeated, and our varsity team has finished third, second, third and fourth in our first four meets.”

Meets are usually on Saturdays, so each of the girls has a lot of experience competing. Most of the meets are away, so the team has to leave around 6 a.m. to get there on time. Before races, some team members set up the tents, some walk the course and some sleep or do homework. Each of the groups takes turns warming up before lining up for their race.

“It’s pretty laid back until you get to the starting line,” Lauren said. “Then it’s all about running.”

Aug. 25, at the Vista Ridge Invitational, Westlake earned fourth place in the varsity three-mile division with sophomore Elise Smoot finishing as Westlake’s first runner with a time of 20:17.

“I think I have done pretty well this season,” Elise said. “I made a huge personal record which boosted my confidence for District. The feeling I get after a race is really indescribable. Growing up I played many sports, and I have no doubt cross country is the hardest sport I’ve ever competed in. Physically running cross country is very painful. Mentally, after a race, I feel really accomplished and proud of my teammates.”

Sept. 9, JV and varsity rode the bus to St. Andrews for a two-and-three-mile race against 15 other schools. Running the two-mile, JV runner junior Carly Rose came in ninth against 266 other runners with a time of 13:40.90. For the girls JV division, Westlake received first place with a total of 25 points.

In cross country, the first five runners to cross the finish line from each school earn points that go toward total team placement at the meet. The first runner gets 1 point, the second gets 2, and so on. The team with the lowest score of their school’s top five runners wins.

“I think we did really well this meet and this season, especially the JV team because we are going into District undefeated,” Carly said.

Over the past few months, through spending every morning together, the team members have bonded. Every meet, after completing the race, the girls wait and cheer each other on until they have all crossed the finish line.

“[The season has] been really fun,” varsity runner freshman Elina Mettala said. “I broke a couple of my personal records, and I’ve learned that if you train hard, your times will be better.”

Lantzy often runs the workouts with the girls, encouraging them to push themselves and do their best.

“Our team has grown in terms of total athletes from 57 members last year to 65 this year,” he said. “Additionally, this year our JV team is undefeated and our varsity has improved by placing at every meet compared to last year. Our most dramatic improvement was at the Regional preview meet Sept. 23, finishing fourth out of 32 teams. Last year we took 16th place.”