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The Student News Site of Altoona Area High School

Mountain Echo

The Student News Site of Altoona Area High School

Mountain Echo

Cross country season comes to an end

Mattie Baker
Get set, go. Boys and girls junior varsity cross country runners wait for the gun to go off at the start line. The teams raced at the Grove City Invitational on Oct. 7, their fifth invitational of the season.

The 2023 season was full of triumphs and defeats for both the girls’ and boys’ cross country teams. The boys went 6-2 in dual meets, and the girls went 5-2. 

“The biggest improvements I saw were in our times,” Coach James D’Angelo said. “We had a lot of runner’s PR on multiple occasions.” 

The season proved to be good in individual growth for both teams, as the girls’ also had five runners beat their personal bests at Districts. 

“I saw a lot of younger kids take a step up towards varsity and be leaders,” junior Andrew Quinn said. “The season went pretty well. Still we lost a couple that we probably should have won. But, we stayed strong throughout the season.”

At Districts, which took place on Oct. 28, both girls’ and boys’ teams placed second. The girls also had one runner, freshman Ashlyn Noce, qualify for States. 

“It honestly felt amazing to realize all the hard work I put in had paid off,” Noce said. “This season I was very blessed with amazing teammates and supporting coaches. Next season, my goals continue to reach higher. I know that with the support of my coaches and my teammates helping me I will be able to reach them.”

And with Districts behind them, the athletes have the opportunity to reflect on their season. 

“It really opened my eyes because last season was my best, and the hardest season is the one after your best,” Quinn said. “There’s more expectations, and being hurt and sick during the season is very mentally tough.”

This reflection looks different for each runner, but especially those who are new to the sport, like sophomore Grace Long. 

“Throughout the season the friendships I made impacted me the most,” Long said. “Because of having someone to talk to about how I felt about the next race and how they felt, the season was less scary and intimidating. It also made me a faster and a more focused runner. Last year at this time, the furthest I had run was about four miles, and this year the furthest I ran was a half-marathon which is a little over 13 miles”

The girls’ team welcomed many new runners this season, along with many new varsity members. The girls’ varsity team for this year was made up of four freshmen, one sophomore, one junior and one senior. “The team is young,” Coach Tabitha Quinn said. “The lineup, both varsity and JV, speaks for itself. I always tell them not to worry about the time or their watch— their place and perseverance will bring a strong finish.”

Among the girls’ cross country team, not only were they becoming better runners but also becoming closer as a whole. 

“The team wasn’t as separated within,” sophomore Natalie Etters said. “Everyone has those people on the team they are closer to, but everyone would talk to everyone because they realized we’re in the same situation. We do the same stuff no matter what speed or whether we’re on varsity or junior varsity. I feel like this year we were all able to bond and be ourselves.”

The runners have another chance to see their teammates after the end of the season at the annual cross country banquet. There, coaches will give awards, speeches and show a slideshow to take them all back through the season. 

“It’s really nice to see everyone again,” Etters said. “It’s sad that you go from months of seeing people to not really seeing them at all.”

Not only is the banquet a celebration of the past season, but also the one to come. 

“It’s exciting but sad at the same time, especially since we’re losing two seniors this year,” Quinn said. 

One of those seniors is Ryen Webster, who is planning to continue running in college. 

“There were some good parts during the season, and some not great,” Webster said. “But we ended on a good note, getting second in Districts, which is always our goal.”

Although the 2023 cross country season is now over, the teams have much to look forward to in the future. 

“All we can do is see if we get better next year,” Quinn said. 

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About the Contributor
Mattie Baker
Mattie Baker, Reporter
My name is Mattie Baker, and this is my first year on staff! I've always loved reading and writing. My goal this year is to write a complete book. My dream job, at the moment, is to work at Barnes & Nobles and drink Starbucks on the daily. I'm obsessed with action movies like "Bullet Train," "John Wick" and "James Bond." I also have a passion for art. I've been taking extra art classes for over 10 years! Later in my life, I hope to be a storyboard artist and author.

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