Seniors lead cross-country team by example

The sun rises as the morning dew melts away and the sound of tennis shoes on the pavement can be heard as the cross country team practices early in the morning. Cross-country seniors Aaron Johanson and Craig Fuentes serve as role models for the team and have continued to enjoy success this season.

“There are only a few sports students do in high school that they can continue to do after graduation,” cross-country coach Justin Havens said. “You can continue to run, and so it ends up becoming kind of a lifestyle rather than just a sport. It’s also a sport where athletes have the best opportunity to earn a scholarship.”

Though some view running as merely a matter of putting on a pair of shoes and hitting the pavement, true runners know that there is a method and a plan involved in becoming a better, more effective runner.

 “I like being able to do something that’s difficult, every time I finish a run I feel like I accomplished something,” Aaron said. “The most difficult part of running is sticking to your training because it’s a very very slow process to actually get better.”

As a runner who has been on the team since his freshman year, Aaron has shown how hard work and dedication pay off by improving his times by over four minutes between his sophomore and junior year.

“Aaron best suits the leadership role,” Havens said. “He leads by example as well as being a vocal leader.” 

Craig has also been a consistent leader on the team and has had many accomplishments throughout high school.

“I’m most proud of going to regionals last year as a junior,” Craig said. “We motivate each other by getting onto people if they don’t show up to practice because no one wants to show up, so you gotta get on them to show up.”

Craig has been one of the fastest runners in school history and holds the record for the fastest 5K along with many of the top ten slots.

“He has always been really into running and he’s been our fastest guy for probably two or three years,” Aaron said. “He is just really dedicated to running, and he knows a lot about it too.”

Cross country can also help you make friends and bond with others with similar interests.

“We support and encourage each other while we run,” Aaron said, “I think the main thing is that we’re a close group of friends because in the morning we bond by running together for hours.”