Saturday, November 1, 2008

Ten Years Apart

I went to the State Cross Country meet today. I love Cross Country, and the State Meet brings the best teams and runners to one spot. I saw some great races today, and the weather was beautiful. This race also marked the 10th year since I ran at the state meet. I was the fifth runner for our team (finishing close to the back of the race), and from what everyone remembered we finished in the top 10.

The reason I went, along with my friend, and fellow WBHS CC team member, Andy, to the meet today was to see our High School coaches son run in his last High School CC race. First off, it was crazy to see how much he and his brother have grown over the last 10 years. It truly made me feel old.

Unfortunately today's race was eerily similar to the race I ran in 10 years ago. Aaron went into the meet as a winner of his Sectional race and conference champion, the same as did Nate Wolff (who was the #1 runner on our team). Both were coming off great seasons, and were mentioned among the possible winners (Nate was probably the favorite ten years ago, while Aaron was listed as one of the contenders to win). Both unfortunately had races that didn't live up to their own expectations, and failed to medal. Today Aaron finished 12th. He did improve on both his time and finishing place from last years race though.

Cross Country to me, is the hardest sport in High School. Over the course of 3.2 miles your mind has a lot of time to tell you that you are doing something crazy with your body. Mainly running way to fast for way to long. Also, you are running as an individual, in a team sport. Once the gun goes off, your teammates are limited in what they can do to help you. Especially in the case of Nate and Aaron. Aaron qualified as an individual, so he was running the race without a team. Nate was so far superior to anyone on the team, that after the gun sounded, none of us would be close enough to Nate again to offer any encouragement. I will never know, what caused them to have off days, but I hope that both of them will look back on their respective races with pride.

While both of them did not have the races they dreamed of, I applaud both of them for their accomplishments. While neither would probably admit this, it is very difficult to be a successful CC runner at Wittenberg-Birnamwood. Both lived in the shadow of two of Wisconsin's greatest runners, John and Cathy Easker. John ran for Wittenberg, and I would argue had the most successful post high school athletic career as a WBHS graduate. Cathy, while she did not go to WBHS, she is the Cross Country coach. While both of the were able to give Nate and especially Aaron (since he is their son) great insight in what it takes to be a top runner, it had to have added some extra pressure.

Even if you would just look at their High School CC accomplishments, they set some lofty standards to live up to. Cathy still holds the two fastest races at state by a girl in Division 2, and John holds the second fastest race at state in Division 2.

I would imagine that there are very few other runners in Nate's race 10 years ago, and Aarons race today, that were not only running against the people in the race, but were running against history. Which I imagine makes for a difficult race.

No comments: