Cross Country Puts the “Hill” in Fernhill

By Bella Forrest, Reporter

As another season of cross country comes to a close, the team looks forward to the high point of the season, the district meet at Fernhill Park on Oct. 21.

The idea behind running a district preview meet earlier in the season is to become familiar with the course and get prepared to prove themselves.

“Each athlete has worked hard and with consistent effort, has shown that they could continue to improve. With the sophomore class being the largest group of runners, they will be in a stronger leadership role next year. The coaches want to support each person as their fitness improves so that they can achieve more things and have stronger relationships with their teammates,” Coach Mark Hale-Brown said.

The team has had a lot of fun and have enjoyed both training and socializing with each other, said Anna Rollins, junior. “For our team, I hope that they push themselves really hard to prove that Cleveland has a chance and to keep the Warriors’ name represented in the years to come.”

The captains’ leadership this season has been very much appreciated in each race, their sportsmanship evident. “My hope is that everyone could PR at districts. We’ve all worked really hard and I’ve loved seeing the team improve,” Adam Nayak, sophomore said.

The nine week and two day training timespan of the season is very short for most runners, but Coach Mark Hale-Brown implemented a good strategy for how to really improve each race. This method is fairly simple and consists of four Cs of racing: Consistency, Centered, Community and Competition. This very effectively highlights what cross country stands for.

“I think we had a really fun team this year and we’re building a community for the future generations of runners to come,” Rollins said. There were eight captains this season, a major change from past seasons. This difference has given one group of underclassmen, the sophomores, a chance to lead the team. “I really enjoyed being a captain this season. I was super surprised when Mark [Hale-Brown] chose me. It was a privilege for me to be a part of the team in a bigger way,” Nayak said.

The team’s event with the Mt. Hood Conference brought on a good vibe and an extra incentive to train harder. “Having the crossover meets with the Mt. Hood Conference has been a great addition to our schedule. By having more people to race, the excitement increases,” said Hale-Brown. “Everyone wants to do their best and by having more people to work with, chase, and try to hold off at the finish makes for some very exciting racing.”

Many people thought of it as a positive experience and that it brought a new aspect to the sport. “It was a different kind of running conference for us so that brought on more competition and people we were running against, but the real competition is in the heart of PIL with teams such as Franklin, Wilson and Grant becoming stronger each season,” Rollins said.

The chance of the team qualifying for state has become ever so difficult since the switch from 5A to 6A, but the boys team is looking very promising. “Going into the district meet, both the men’s and women’s teams are ranked fifth in the PIL. The men are really close to Franklin and if they can position themselves well, they may be able to move ahead of them,” Hale-Brown said. With Noah Adams, Kieran Moylan, Jalato Sultessa, Adam Nayak, Brendan Walsh, and Nick Hart on the varsity squad, they are very ready to prove their rank.

“Jalato [Sultessa] is racing to place in the top ten in order to qualify for state. If he is able to do that, then he will be only the second person in Cleveland High School history to run all four years at state, which would be an amazing accomplishment. Cross country is a great way to meet new people, work together, and see what can be accomplished when coming together, to try one’s hardest at the meets,” said Hale-Brown. “They all really support and cheer for each other which is a wonderful thing to see.”