Cross-country has started at Salt River High School, and 12 students have been showing up to practices every day and have made improvements as they strive to meet and surpass their athletic goals.
At the Eagles’ second track meet, the Sequoia Academy Invitational in Maricopa on September 6, two SRHS students made the top 10 in the mile-and-a-half run. Seventh-grader Kianna Loring and eighth-grader Justine Cooper both represented the Junior High School class at the event.
“I wanted to start running, and also I have participated in the fun runs here in the Community,” said Loring. “I didn’t expect to come out in the top five of the race. I was really nervous because it was my first time to be at the meet, and it felt great.”
With a time of 11:08, Loring finished fourth out of 117 girls in the mile-and-a-half event.
“I didn’t think I could do that, and I just surprised myself because it was my first run … but it was easier than I thought,” said Loring.
Cooper has been participating in cross-country for three years.
“This last meet I got third place in the 1.5-mile race, and my goal is to bring down my time and hopefully place first or second in the state meet,” said Cooper, who had a time of 10:29.5.
“The good thing about her time was that the first-place winner finished at 10:22, which was only several seconds faster than Justine’s time,” said coach Simon Smith. “And this was only the second meet for the team. Justine can easily make that time up.
“This year the races are 1 mile shorter than last year,” Smith added. “Overall it’s positive and something to look forward to.” When she was a sixth-grader, Cooper was always running before school started.
“I like the way you feel after you get done running, like a natural high. It feels good,” said Cooper.
“Running is hard, but they all laugh and smile during each practice and no one ever complains,” said coach Kino Reed. “We just want them to see how much they can do and how far they can go. We also want to emphasize that running is a part of the culture; it’s something ancient that their tribe has always done. It makes them stronger runners [and is] a part of who they are. I think it’s good for the whole team to participate, because each practice they are improving more and more.”