Senior Reflects on Years on Cross Country Team

Emily Engel, Staff Writer

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Central’s girls’ cross-country team is currently ranked eighth in the state, but for senior Madeline Riddell, the sport is about more than just competing. 

“I like cross country we really have a close team aspect.” Riddell said “I have a lot of close relationships on the team.” 

Even before joining cross country, running has always been a part of her life. For many years she has played soccer, like many good runners, but now cross country has become her bigger athletic focus. 

“I started running cross country in seventh grade with my school, but I played soccer for over ten years, so I had run a lot anyway.” Riddell said. 

Many people, even athletes, find running to be too difficult to enjoy but every year the cross-country team has at least 30 consistent runners. What has kept Riddell from coming back to cross country over the past years is being to improve her times each meet. 

“A lot of people think that cross country will be terrible so they don’t want to do it,” Riddell said, “But once you join and practice and get better at it, it’s really fun and rewarding.” 

A common struggle among student athletes is balancing their school work and their sport. As an IB student, every night Riddell has to manage about six hours of homework on top of daily practices after school.  

“Sometimes it can be tough to find a good balance but, a lot of times, I can just go to practice and then right when I get home I plan out everything I need to do so I can knock it all out and get some sleep” She said. 

In addition to time management skills, participating in sports can teach students life lessons and give then experiences that can’t be found elsewhere. Cross country is unique in this way because it is as much a mental sport as it is a physical one and is known to help build mental endurance. 

“I’ve become a much better leader and a better friend because of cross country.” Riddell said, “I’ve definitely become healthier and more athletic.” 

As college selection comes nearer, Riddell is choosing schools for their academics over athletics, though she would like to continue running throughout college regardless of whether there is a cross country team. Some schools, such as UNL, have running clubs in addition to cross country teams that meet once or twice for casual runs.                                                          

“I’m not sure if I will run cross country in college yet, but if I got the opportunity I might.” Riddell said. 

Her last cross-country season at Central is now soon to come to an end, but she will never be able to forget the friends she’s made and the fun she’s had on the team. Centrals girls’ team is a uniquely tight knit group, with frequent team bonding activities and team dinners.                                                      

“I’ll miss the team and my team mates and all of the fun things we get to do together. I’ll miss going to meets and encouraging everybody and having everybody encourage me.” Riddell said. 

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Senior Reflects on Years on Cross Country Team