Cross Country Senior Memory: The Finale

Benjamin Gregory, Creative Writing Student

The Finale

One more Cross Country story…

It’s the night before the biggest day of the season: cross country state 2019. Beyond being the biggest day of the season, it would also mark the end of a four year journey. The night before I was nervous beyond belief, so I can only imagine how the racers felt. This nervous feeling began to fade early the next morning at 6:00 when the non-racers went for the annual morning run with the coaches. This cold November morning run was just what I needed to get ready for the end of the road. Just hours from now I’d be running around a golf course yelling and cheering for my life.

Arriving at the course, thousands of people can be seen and in the distance is a city of tents representing each team. The Notre Dame flag comes into view and surrounding the castle of tents is a group of team members and a bunch of parents. Prior to the boys race Mrs. Gerstner calls us all around, a good 30 people, and calls for a group prayer. This scene is magical: a cloudy day with a gentle breeze and snow streaking through the air.

The race begins and fourteen teams compete to take the top two spots and bring home a trophy. While the seven Triton runners are running as fast as they can, I am probably running as fast as I possibly can trying to get to different spots to cheer them on and keep them going. With the race coming to an end it is clear that we are not the number one spot and have probably secured the second place position. The end of the race is fenced off to give the runners a chance to collect themselves and gather as a team. Howie, Owen, Reid, and the rest come to the fence to hug their supporters and then gather together.

 I stand right by the fence with my arms around Bennet Smith and Joe Stumpf watching the big screen as it counts down from fourteen to first revealing the rankings. The screen shows third place: Freedom. A bit of relief comes over me as I realize we have secured a podium finish. Then second place reveals Notre Dame. A lot of emotion comes over me as this happens. Firstly disappointment because for over a year we had talked about this being our year to win it all. Next was happiness because we had worked so hard all year, and we had to fight all year to get to this spot, and we came out as one of the best teams in the state. Lastly was sadness because this was the last ride, the final show, and the end of an era

I had experienced so much at once and didn’t know what to do. Most people don’t know the bond that members of the team create over the years, and it really becomes something special. So overwhelmed I looked around the circle of friends around me and went over to Noah Sternig and tried to get words out, but nothing came out. Instead he just held out his arms and brought me in as I returned the hug and let myself fall vulnerable and cry in his embrace. It was the kindest thing anyone ever did for me.