MCMS finishes strong in their 2022 season of cross country

Learn how the cross country Panthers showed their pride by dominating their big race!


Emily Hardy

The cross country Panthers warm up with drills on the MCMS upper fields.

On Tuesday, Sept. 13, Medea Creek Middle School kicked off this 2022 season of cross country with its first practice. The program, existing over 10 years, would prepare athletes for a single race on Friday, Oct. 14, all the way in Walnut, California. This race, held at Mt. San Antonio College, was a hilly two-mile race part of the largest cross country meet in the country. Thousands of athletes competed over the course of two weekends. Last season, Medea’s girls team placed third in their race with the boys team close behind, scoring fourth in their own race.

“I am looking forward to all the hard work paying off with fast times and medals,” Head Coach Steven White said when asked about his hopes for the program at the race. “It is a fun day to spend with the athletes and watch them race.”

The team is headed by White, who also is the head coach of Oak Park High School’s cross country team, with additional coaching by Coach Jones and Coach Kalan. There are athletes of all grades in the program, further divided into a sixth-grade girls team, a seventh-grade girls team, a girls varsity team (the top seven girls in the program of all grades) and a boys varsity team. A time trial held on Thursday, Sept. 29 determined which athletes would race on the varsity teams and which athletes would compete in their grade-level race. The program met three times a week on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, bright and early in the morning for 45 minutes over the course of about a month. Practices were held at MCMS as well as Oak Canyon Park, where athletes trained in a spectrum of different workouts. Sometimes, athletes ran base mileage runs, where they trained to get more comfortable with longer distances of running. Other times, they ran tempo runs, where they focused on speed training and hill workouts as athletes trained to become stronger at overcoming hills they would encounter in their race. 

“I’m looking forward to the race we’ve been working toward,” girls varsity athlete Tabitha Brown said prior to the race. “I think [cross country is] a very good program for students here.”

During the race, athletes ran two loops on relatively flat ground around the course’s Valley Loop for about a mile. They then took it up a steep hill known as Reservoir Hill and sped all the way back down and around for the finish, totaling two miles.

Around 25 schools competed at Mt. Sac that day, with roughly 80 competitors in each race. Overall, Medea scored fifth place as a team for the seventh-grade girls, fourth place in girls varsity and fifth place in boys varsity. Six athletes out of all teams scored top 30 in their race, two of those athletes scoring in the top ten. Ari Kalan finished seventh overall in the boys varsity race and Tabitha Brown finished tenth place in the girls varsity race.

Medea’s cross country team walks through the entrance to Mt. Sac. (Emily Hardy)

“I am very proud of the effort that all the athletes have put into the race,” White later said. “It is a great program to be part of.” 

Afterward, the team celebrated at In-N-Out and Chipotle before heading back to Medea on a two-hour bus ride. Everyone expressed the fun they had at Mt. Sac that day and played games with each other the whole ride back, strengthening the bond between the runners.

“I really love how there’s a team for the school,” said athlete Hadiah Haidari of the seventh-grade girls team. “I love running and because of the program that is provided, I can show spirit and run for my school. It’s super fun waking up early just to run. It doesn’t sound very exciting, and if anything pretty dull, but it really wakes you up in the morning and is super exhilarating.”