This year’s Blazer cross-country team feels different. As Eamon O. ’17 puts it, “our team has always been pretty good, but this year we’re doing especially well.” Teammate Ethan W. ’18 agrees, “this is the first time our team has been really really promising.”
Last year, the Bush cross-country boys team missed qualifying for the state championship by one point. “If one runner would have passed one other kid, we would have gone to states,” explains Head Coach James Batey.
Now, the Bush cross-country team is ready to face the championship series again. Our boys team is ranked third in the state in our division, first in our district, and has won every league meet by a considerable margin. Sophomore Ela Nickels ’19 recently beat over 150 other girls and posted a season record at the Hole in the Wall Invitational in Lakewood. Beyond the numbers, something feels different this year. You may have seen Blazers walking around campus in shirts that say, simply, “THE TEAM”. Those two words say everything about varsity cross-country this year.
Our varsity runners—five girls and eleven boys—have been working since the beginning of the summer to prepare for these upcoming weeks. Over the summer, the team came together for two practices a week, and stayed connected during off days by logging miles in a shared Google document. Seniors Liam V. ’17 and Graham D. ’17 joined the team only as recently as summer. Already endurance athletes from cross-country skiing and basketball, respectively, they put in the work necessary over the summer to become runners. It worked—both are making a positive impact on the team and are in the top five among the boys. The summer was important for building the chemistry that makes this year’s team different. Several runners logged over 500 miles each. In August, coaches are not allowed to run practice, so the captains did. During the first weekend back to school, the cross-country team held a retreat on Vashon Island. “We did two-a-days, we did hill workouts on sand, and suffered together. That suffering is what cross-country is all about, and if you can withstand that and be happy afterwards, then you want to do it again,” says Batey.
The Blazer runners have shown that they want to do it again. With practice five days a week, a league race during the week, and an invitational on the weekends, the team has been running nearly every day of the week this fall. As Batey explains, “The whole focus this year is about the team, and working for the team, and being supportive of your teammates. And we’ll have girls who have to take tests, and they finish late, and they run down here to do their workout after everyone else is done because they don’t want to miss it.” Eamon O. ’17 talked to Ike E. in his podcast Ike on the Mic about the atmosphere at practice after a big win: “It was supposed to be a cooldown day, a recovery day, but kids were still trying to push themselves.”
This Friday, October 21, just before the big fall sports celebration the Blazer Bash, the cross-country team will compete in the league championship at Lincoln Park. The next step is the district championship, then the state championship. Our boys hope to advance as a team, and a few of our girls hope to advance as individuals. With a team of only five girls running against schools twice the size of Bush, advancing as a team is difficult. However, Ela N. ’19 ran at state last year as a freshman, placing seventeenth, after breaking the school record. And this year, she’s running faster. Freshman Lolo D. ’20 has also come out strong, and may be able to qualify as an individual.
There’s a real feeling of this year’s team being bigger than the individuals. There’s something happening that makes our Blazer runners run eight miles at night in the middle of July instead of catching up on Netflix. It’s a culture of competitiveness and inclusiveness that the coaches have been building over the past few years. The focus on the team helps individuals grow, and helps the team grow. It makes everyone stronger.
“Our kids have worked incredibly hard through the past few months,” says Coach James Batey, “and they keep getting faster. Three-quarters of our runners will set a personal record in each race, which means that the best is yet to come.”
Be a part of the story
Friday, October 21
Boys: 3:30 at Lincoln Park
THE TEAMBoys' Team PageGirls' Team Page
Head Coach: James Batey
Assistant Varsity Coach: Paula Dowtin
Assistant Varsity Coach: Kayla Eland
Assistant Coach: Haley Seymour
Oliver D. (captain)
Tom F. (captain)
Student quotes used with permission from Ike E. '18, from his podcast Ike on the Mic.