A Senior Reflects on Her Time on Cross Country


Credit: Luke Yerkes

The boys Cross Country team enjoys post-race drinks and snacks as a group.

It’s a Wednesday afternoon in Van Cortlandt Park, about a thirty minute drive from Hackley on a good day. The bus is packed with about 50 cross-country runners, some nervous for the meet, others used to the anxiety that comes before a race. With little time to waste, the team moves off the bus, dropping off bags by the usual tree before immediately jumping into the warmup. Hurriedly, the team warms up for their race in fifteen minutes, with barely any time to use the bathroom, get spikes on, or remove jewelry.  Though it’s stressful, the girls are on the line with no time to spare, and the gun goes off, and so do the girls, sprinting to start the race of steep hills and spike-crunching pavement.


To most people, this would seem like a nightmare. To Hackley runner Alex Evangelidis, this is the norm, and has been for the past 2 years. Starting her distance running career in spring track her sophomore year and nominated to be a cross-country captain this year, she says that the thing that drew her in to cross country was the kindness and encouragement from the team. “When I was a freshman doing the class day run, before I was even on a team, I remember the seniors cheering me on when I crested that hill. There’s just overwhelming support all around, even if you aren’t friends or even know each other.” That support is what the team is built on, and the challenge of the sport ever solidifies the members together.


The sport is also one of the most challenging out there. Runners have described it as “grueling, make-you-cry work,” and “one of the hardest things you can do.” To keep going is one of the toughest things, and the captains know most of all. “I get reminded by how much I love it, and I know that I have a responsibility to the other members of the team to keep going and set a good example.” This love for the team and feeling of responsibility is adopted by all the members. It’s a huge family. In fact, the newly adopted girls team’s cheer is as follows: “One, two, three, family! Four, five, six, sisters!”


Runners, no matter how experienced or new, work together. “Cross country is a team sport,” says Alex, “It definitely is. I feel like people don’t realize that. In cross country you’re racing to place and in order to score points for your team, it’s based on how all of the runners do. Everyone depends on each other. That’s your team score at the end and it affects how well you place in a meet.”


The sport’s uniqueness comes from its consistency between runners. “It really is unique because it’s that one sport where everyone’s running the exact same distance, the exact same course, it’s not like people play different positions or different events, it’s just everyone doing the same thing. I feel like that helps our team develop and grow because of how we share it.” To Alex, and to all the Hackley runners, cross country provides a second family, close knit by hard work, assistance, and bonds formed by growing together.