Mon. Jul 4th, 2022

On Wednesday, October 17, Leesville’s cross country team faced off against the best competition our conference has to offer in the 2018 Cap 7 Championships. Despite both the boys and girls teams falling just short of gold, athlete performance across the board was quite impressive and a definitive step up from the previous season.

The conference championships were held at Wakemed Soccer Park in Cary, and the competing athletes welcomed some of the first cool weather of the season. After training in the unrelenting summer heat for so many months, it was refreshing for the runners to finally experience some fair conditions. Though the weather may be partially responsible for Leesville’s  impressive performance, most of our strongly attribute their recent success to the methods of their coaches.

“I believe we prepared better than any other team because of our coaches,” said Max Buico, a junior on the cross country team. “They put us through tough workouts that they know work because they themselves actively compete and put themselves through them.”

Enduring the summer heat, practicing 4-7 times a week, and remaining dedicated for months on end is what truly gave the team an edge in the Cap 7 Championships. For many, this race was even an opportunity to push their limits and set a new personal record.

“I got a new personal best with a time of 16:34,” said Jack Fuhrer, a junior. “I placed 14th in the varsity race, earning myself All-Conference status.” Fuhrer was confident in his preparation going into the race–mentally and physically he was in top form. All that was left for him to do was carry out his plan.

Despite the competitive natural typical of these sort of events, the mood surrounding this race  was more than a bit somber. Only a day before, Cardinal Gibbons own Madeline Grace Shook had died tragically in a car crash. Shook was one of Gibbons fastest girls and beloved by her team. Her death weighed heavily on all present at the race; all the athletes were gravely aware that it could have been any one of them instead.

In a fantastic display of sportsmanship, all of the teams participating in the race bought green and gold ribbons (Gibbons colors) to tie on their jerseys and shoes in an effort to commemorate the fallen Gibbon’s runner. “It wasn’t a lot, but we knew we had to do something to show that they weren’t alone and that we would support them during this time,” said Fuhrer.

Fueled by the grief of their fallen teammate, Cardinal Gibbons girls team ended up taking home the championship with Leesville’s girls taking a close second. The boys also brought home the silver, only being beat out by Gibbons.

Despite not bringing home the gold, both teams displayed a tremendous amount of improvement: The boys team climbed up from taking third in their previous season, and–even more impressively–the girls teamed moved all the way up from fourth in the previous season. This team is on the rise, and their determination is taking them to heights never before imaginable.

The Cap 7 tournament is not the final chapter for Leesville. Next on the agenda is Regionals in Greenville; the athletes will get another shot at beating their rivals from the conference in addition to challenging of other schools in the region. “Our goal for Regionals is to go out and win both the girls and boys races,” said Buico.

The final obstacle on the horizon will be the Cross Country State Championships in Kernersville. Every athlete on Leesville’s cross country team is running, sweating, and pouring every once of their soul into training for one final purpose: A state title.

“We don’t want to stop at winning regionals; at states we’re striving and pushing to bring home a State Championship,” said Fuhrer. “We’re certainly ambitious, but we know that we’ve worked and raced too hard to achieve anything less.”

Leesville’s cross country team has displayed immense improvement, sportsmanship, and dedication at this year’s Cap 7 Championships and their success is far from over. This is a team with hungry athletes and an ambitious coaching staff–they won’t be satisfied until the goals they’ve worked so hard to achieve come to fruition. Looking forward to the regional and state championships, expect nothing but the best from the Leesville Road cross country team.

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