Cross country kicks off the season strong

Team hopes to parlay a promising start into a successful season


Mara Hankins/Talon

Various trophies won at a recent invitational

The Oak Park Cross Country team starts off their season with teams on all levels — freshman, sophomore, and junior varsity girls teams, as well as some of the boys teams — claiming victories. 

“I’m very excited about the teams recent wins, it shows the evidence of their hard work leading up to those wins, but at the same time, we know we have a lot of work left to be done as we get into league meets and CIF,” head cross country coach Steven White said. 

The Oak Park Cross Country team prepares for their meets in the future through several practices held throughout the summer and school year. Practices are Monday through Saturday, from 3:30 pm to 5:30 p.m. on weekdays, and 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. on weekends.

“With all of the training we have been doing since the beginning of summer, honestly, I feel pretty prepared for future meets,” junior and team captain Nina Russillo said. 

Athletes on the cross country team have been practicing from before the school year even started, and are finally able to compete as the season kicks off. The cross country team has been progressing throughout the recent meets, and continue to train daily for upcoming competitions.

“I think our progress is great, and they are working very hard together as a team and are holding each other accountable, which is huge, and just are really running well,” White said.

When going to a meet, the cross country team must follow COVID-19 protocols and guidelines. Where the runner must or may not wear masks is an important part of the protocols as well.

“We all wear face coverings on buses, but when we are outside and competing, they do not have to be worn. Athletes can keep them on if they choose to, ” White said.

The Oak Park Cross Country team continues to act as a unified whole, even through the COVID-19 pandemic and through new COVID-19 protocols. The cross country team has a true family dynamic.

Russillo helps keep this family going. 

“To me, being a leader is just being able to take charge and treat everyone on the team like family, and is someone who anyone can come to with any problems and make them feel comfortable.”

The determination and spirit of the cross country team, as well as several months of training, brought them to victory in recent meets. Their work is not over, however, as the meets continue. 

“I think right now we are going really great in our season, but there are a couple schools that are better than us,” sophomore and cross country member Jai Singh said.

Running cross country is not only a physical activity, but a mental one as well. 

“It can be difficult to get through runs mentally, but at the end of the day when you have finished your run, it’s really rewarding,” Russillo said.