Thomas Jefferson

High School | Home of the Spartans

Striding to Greatness

Posted 11/13/2015 by Caroline Cech

The team celebrates a successful season. photo by Maggie Fairfield

The TJ cross country team ended the season on the right foot with a bigger team and even bigger improvements.

The cross country team at TJ had an eventful year, with many new runners and a great deal of motivation, resulting in a rise in the DPS standings for the 2015-2016 season. Faster times and a closer-knit team are only a few of the improvements the team made this year.

Cross country is one of the most open and easily accessible sports; many people can go out and run, but it takes practice and dedication to excel in the sport. In the past, TJ’s cross country team has been fairly small compared to other schools in the district. This year, many new freshmen and sophomores joined the team, making it larger than it has been in years. With more runners, it is also more difficult to make the varsity team. Instead of discouraging the team, it makes the runners more motivated to work their hardest in order to receive an athletic letter. Having more runners also raises TJ’s rank in crossvcountry. “My favorite thing is that we are a family. We work together and help each other out and just make each other better,” said junior runner Natalie Daniels. The faster the runners become and the more they improve, the better TJ will become in relation to Colorado standings.

Head coach Robert Sturges is in his third year as TJ’s coach and brings fun and motivation to the team, giving positive energy and feedback to the team in order to get them to improve as much as they possibly can. “I really enjoy seeing the team bond and new friendships develop. I think this team has been tremendously successful in that regard of fostering a fun environment,” said Sturges. Runners on the team who are injured are encouraged to go to the meets and cheer on their team, which fuels the great relationships between teammates. The team practices five days a week; Monday, Wednesday, and Friday are hard workouts that focus on speed training and hills, while easy workouts on Tuesday and Thursday are light jogs in the parks around TJ, such as Eisenhower Park and Bible Park.

Throughout the season, the team attended multiple meets. Washington Park was the first meet of the season, considered a pre-meet; it was shorter than the standard 5K high school meets, intended to ease runners back into the swing of meets. The second meet was at Harvard Gulch, which is a golf course with little shade and mostly hills. It is one of the most difficult courses of the season, and the team achieved many personal records.

The following meets were at Bear Valley Park, which is where most Colorado meets of the season are held. This is an advantage because the team gets to know the course, and therefore know when to start sprinting to the finish. “First we warm up all the individual groups,” Daniels explained, “so it’s varsity boys’ and girls’ then open boys’ and girls’. First varsity warms up and we all warm up as a group and just do a little lap around so we know how the course is going to go. Then we eventually get ready and run it.”

TJ cross-country had a great season with faster times and a closer team, and it has been fun to see the success the team finished this year with. “Cross country is a beautifully simple sport,” said Sturges, and it will be fun to see the many new victories and accomplishments in upcoming seasons.