Cross Country girls make history


Gabi Reifsnyder, Reporter

“One minute till the start!” a voice yells out. The girls are lined up, ready to run. They take a deep breath, and think to themselves, “This is it.” The team walks up to the line, and wishes each other a final good luck. Ten seconds remain. A man raises both arms, with a gun in his hand. “On your mark,” he yells. The gun goes off and he drops his hands, everyone sprints straight ahead. A hundred or so girls make their way through the course putting in all they have.

The Girls Cross Country team was a part of this feeling on Oct 29 when they competed in the District 3 race held at Big Spring and again when they traveled to Hershey to compete in the 2016 PIAA Cross Country Championships.

The girls’ team consisted of Emma Fertig (Senior), Sam Crouse (Junior), Alexa Walter (Junior), Sydney Palmer (Junior), Melanie Macioce (Sophomore), Fawn Bennett (Sophomore), and Gabi Reifsnyder (Freshman).

To make it to Districts, the girls had to run under a time of 24 minutes in a 5 K (a 3.1 mile) race. Out of the 11 girls on the team, 7 of them qualified early in the season for the District race. Alexa Walter said, “The time leading up to districts was exciting and stressful because we knew we had a chance of going to states.” She also said, “Leading up to Districts we constantly checked (the website) Mile Split and scores of the other teams to see how we were placed.”

All the hard work and time put in by the girls paid off at Districts, where the girls did what no other cross country team in Big Spring history has ever done. They qualified as a team for the State Competition by placing in the top three. Over the years, they have had individual runners qualify for States, but never has a team been able to accomplish this until now. Walter said, “The feeling of making it to states as a team and being the first to do so is absolutely indescribable.”

The girls were not only successful at districts but also had an outstanding rest of the season. They finished second in their division, only losing one meet against Boiling Springs. Crouse said, “The whole team ran their hardest this season and gained confidence leading into Districts.”

Along with the seven runners, they had freshman Isabella Pittman joining them as the alternate runner. This means that she would only run at the state competition if one of the top seven girls got injured before the race. Even though she was the alternate, Pittman still had to go to practices and train along with the team the week before states. Pittman said, “I enjoyed practicing and running with the team,” and added, “I just wish I could have competed with them too.”

On Nov. 4 the girls along with their two coaches headed to Hershey to get to know the course before running it the next day.

Finally, the day came and the girls made the last journey back to Hershey for the state competition. They spent the morning warming up and getting ready for their race against 20 other girls AA teams. At 10:15 they took to the starting line, did their last huddle of the season and got ready for their final race of the year.

The girls pushed hard and finished with an overall place of 13 out of 20 teams. Individually, none of the girls were able to beat their previous records but still had tremendous races. Sam Crouse finished 64th in twenty minutes and fifty three seconds, Gabi Reifsnyder 111th in 21:21, Melanie Macioce 116th in 21:25, Fawn Bennett 144th in 21:46, Emma Fertig 193rd in 23:24, Alexa Walter 195th in 23:28, and Sydney Palmer 210th in 24:42.

Crouse, a last year state competitor, said “Last year’s, states was very difficult for me mentally because I knew I was there by myself and without the rest of my team but this year was amazing because I had the whole team there with me.”

The Cross Country girls team had a memorable season and are looking forward to the year to come.