Girls’ cross country – A job well-run


Coach Jackie Crisp

Girls’ cross country – Emily Kern, Aubrey O’Connell, Tatum Castillo, Madison Christy, Alexis Svoboda, Sadie Gonzales and Kirstin Towle – take a minute for a Nike Nationals picture. They placed 20th out of 22 teams. “Going to Nike Nationals has been like a dream all of high school so to achieve this goal felt really good, but when you get there, you realize there are so many goals ahead,” Senior Madison Christy said. “I feel like there’s always going to be something to work towards.”

Grace Williamson, Reporter

Aubrey O’Connell, 17:59. Sadie-Leigh Gonzales, 19:12. Tatum Castillo, 19:21. Madison Christy, 19:36. Emily Kern, 20:13. Alexis Svoboda, 20:17. Kirstin Towle, 22:02.

Girls cross country made district history when they attended Nike Cross Nationals for the first time. The team placed 20th overall, ranking them nationally.

“It was a big experience for us. At the beginning of the season, we didn’t know what to expect, but as the season went by, we kept winning big races,” freshman Aubrey O’Connell said. “When we qualified for Nike Nationals, it was really big for us, and we knew we could do our best.”

O’Connell placed 41st out of 202 competitors in the Women’s 5000 Meters Championship Race.

“NxN happens every single year. There’s 10 or 11 regions, and two teams qualify out of each region, so we will compete next year again in the south region,” senior Madison Christy said. “If we get top two, then we get to go again.”

The team received Nike merchandise like exclusive running shoes and a tour of the headquarters.

“We were all very elated as we were waiting for them to call because they won’t tell you or post the results like they normally do for a meet. You have to wait for the big ceremony at the end,” head coach Jennifer Gegogeine said. “They go from top 10, nine, eight, seven, six, five. The top two have an automatic bid, so after we heard ‘third place, Southlake Carroll High School,’ and we hadn’t heard our name, you can only imagine how excited we were.”

Gegogeine said she believes the girls will be prepared for next year because of their experience.

“They got to experience things that the average teams would not experience because when you go to nationals there’s only 22 teams in the entire United States,” Gegogeine said. “They got to compete against not just the best in our state, but the best across the entire country.”

The race took place at Glendoveer Golf Course in Portland, Ore.

“I got to experience what it was like to be running with the best of the best,” O’Connell said. “It was a good way to see where I was at.”

Christy said her team brought her motivation back, and she is glad her last season was her best season as she looks forward to college.

“College is my biggest motivation for cross country because I really want to run in college, and work toward that,” Christy said. “My friends are also my motivation because they’re all so hardworking, and when you’re around a group of really hard working people, it’s easy to do the same.”

Although it is Christy’s last year, she said she believes the team will carry on and improve.

“I think the top four are only going to get faster,” Christy said. “They have a really good shot at having a good program for the next few years.”

The team placed 20th out of 22 teams, which makes them nationally-ranked in high school girls’ cross country teams across the U.S.

“I think that us going there and competing against the best, we knew that wherever we placed at the end of the day … we would be nationally-ranked because we finished 20th,” Gegogeine said. “It was the starting point so that when we go back again next year, we know where we were, we know where we want to go, and we know what we need to do to get there.”

O’Connell has three years of competing ahead of her, and she is just starting.

“Our team really bonded there,” O’Connell said. “We got to know each other even more. I think it helped us race because we knew whatever we did was for our team, and we were proud of each other no matter what.”