This past weekend at the 41st St. John’s Ramble
, held at Spring Creek Park in Tomball, the Girls’ Varsity top five finished 1, 2, 4, 12, and 14 for their first win of the season. Twelve Mavericks recorded personal bests, including Alexa Christensen ’23
who won the race and got her first win in the sport.
“I’m super pumped,” said Christensen, a senior who is only in her second season of cross country. “It’s so fun to go for it and push your limits and see how far you can go. You will surprise yourself, and it’s a great team culture. It’s helped me grow across the board as an athlete.”
Natalie Boquist ’23 set a PR and finished second overall. She started cross country in middle school and had doubts about continuing running in high school, but she has plenty to show for sticking it out.
“It’s an amazing experience,” said Boquist. “You can find out a lot about yourself. It doesn’t matter how fast you are. Everyone on the team loves each other.”
“You never know what can happen in a meet, and the things you cannot control, like the other teams,” said Head Girls’ Coach Rachel Fabre. “We had a plan going in —staying together as a unit and slowing down the first mile and really focusing on our second and third mile.”
The Ramble, and most of the meets including upcoming SPC Championships, are a 5K distance. Each team can enter up to 10 runners at SPC with their top five scoring points and 6 and 7 figuring in the scoring (they don't affect your team score, but can push other teams score higher if they finish ahead of another team's 5th runner). If there is a tie between two teams, the sixth place runner will break the tie. On hand at the Ramble was Head of Upper School Kevin Weatherill who ran and coached cross country for a number of years. He equates the sport to a game of poker.
“As no single card wins a hand, no individual runner makes a good team,” said Weatherill. “Individual runners are made better by the group, and the group is made better by individuals. There is a camaraderie around the shared difficulty of running. Cross country runners always experience pain. Their bond is a collective respect for improving and enduring.”
The Boys’ team finished 5th overall paced by Wilson Bailey ’23 (6th) and William Thames ’23 (14th). The next three finishers were 27, 32, and 38. Nevertheless, they only missed finishing second by 12 points with their normal #3 runner struggling with illness and finishing out of our top 5. The competitive field included most of the top private schools in the state, including perennial TAPPS powers Antonian and St. Agnes.
“I love that it is a hard sport,” said Bailey. “It’s not as pretty as ‘Friday Night Lights,’ but it's a team sport and about how fast you want to motor yourself.”
“We’ve got some work to do going towards SPC,” said Thames. “This is a harder course and we are acclimating and need to work on hills. It’s exciting, and we have plenty of time.”
Head Boys’ Coach Richie Mercado ’79 has seen his share of cross country meets, including 34 Rambles.
“The thing you learn is that even elite runners feel the pain,” said Mercado. “An elite runner once told us, ‘pain comes along for the ride, but it has to sit in the back seat, and it doesn't get to choose the music.’”
The SPC Championships will take place back at Spring Creek Park on November 5. Besides training, the Mavericks have one more meet (SPC South Zone Championships on October 22) to shuffle the deck and get their playlist in order.
Sam Chambers- Athletic News