Three runners from the Woodland High School cross country team sealed their spot in the state tournament after competing at districts on Oct. 27.
Head Coach Melanie Holmes is proud of what the athletes accomplished and hopes they will keep the momentum going at the state tournament on Nov. 5.
Sophomore Couly McReynolds, who placed 25th at districts in the girls 5,000 meter race, set a personal record at 21:02 and will move onto state. For the boys, sophomore Alejandro Alvardo placed 10th in the 5,000 meter with a time of 16:45, while senior Gus Heidgerken placed 30th with a new personal record of 17:36.
“Couly and Alejandro, in particular, are just gritty,” Holmes said.
Holmes encouraged both of the athletes to join Woodland’s cross country team after seeing them run.
“They are both just gutsy. They just show up and run hard,” she said. “It doesn’t matter if it’s raining or if it’s hot, they are going to show up and they’re going to run so hard. They’re coachable and they do everything I ask, and it’s been a lot of fun.”
Holmes said Heidgerken has been on her team for a long time. She said he has “really high character” and described him as a “high-class kid that grinds it out every single day at practice.”
Some of the other members on the team are newer to the sport, Holmes said. At one point, the coach realized half of the team had never been in a race prior to joining the team this season. They started from square one as they began to hone their skills.
“We got a bunch of new athletes out from the soccer team, which was fun … (and a) couple of new foreign exchange students that hadn’t ran before and so we had a lot of new athletes,” Holmes said.
Some of the runners take part in other sports outside of cross country and soccer. The basketball players and members of the golf team have brought a different dynamic to cross country. Since no one is competing against a teammate for a spot, Holmes said the athletes in the end race themselves.
“I’ve had a couple of them tell me this is the most unique team environment and it’s a lot of fun, so that’s been cool watching them experience that and having the conversations with them like ‘maybe you could take some of this environment back to your teams and have that mutually supportive experience that way, too,” Holmes said.
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