Forty-four junior varsity runners pummeled the Marina Bay hills Thursday afternoon at a high school cross-country meet.
Coaches lined the turns of the course’s last 200 meters, calling out words they hoped would catapult their runners across the finish line.
The coach yelling “Don’t let her pass you,” as her runner was being overtaken by Kennedy’s Danaya Giddens, though, wasn’t in luck. Giddens had disappeared around a bend before the last word left the coach’s mouth as the Kennedy sprinter finished the long race the way she would her usual 100-meter dash – strong.
Cross-training is common practice in sporting programs worldwide. Athletes better their overall performance by participating in a sport that conditions them for their main season. Baseball, basketball and track athletes were among the runners at Thursday’s meet, each pacing pavement, grass and gravel toward a finish line adorned with little orange cones.
The 1.8-mile marina track took runners 10-20 minutes to complete – a lot more than the 10-12 second goal for the 100-meter run, which is many of Kennedy’s runners’ specialty.
“As soon as the gun goes off, the competitor kicks in,” Kennedy Coach Carl Sumler said. Despite their signature quickness, the Eagles are challenged to balance the use of speed and stride while maintaining healthy breathing.
Sumler’s objective is to build up his already speedy athletes by focusing on endurance. Calves, hamstrings and quadriceps are defined as runners are led through the expansive course by two bikers.
“It’s challenging,” said Eagle senior LaVontae Hill. “The uphill is the killer.”
Hill improved last week’s first place time of 10:58 by 18 seconds — good enough for seventh place.
Though none of Kennedy’s runners were in the top five at Thursday’s meet, Sumler was smiling. “They are competing against their times and everyone’s times dropped,” he said.