Cross country laces up for fall season

Harrison Epstein photo

The Glenrock cross country team, led by James Halvorsen, run as a group in a warm up run at practice on Sept. 3.

By Harrison Epstein

As cross country runners depart their final classes for the day and prepare for yet another early-season practice, they can rest easy in knowing at least they have options for the upcoming workout.
They can take traditional laps around the track, or weave through a scenic nature route through town devised by coach Chris Gray. Even though the season just kicked off Aug. 19, the team has already experienced its first taste of competition.
Last weekend, various Herders got their first opportunity to attend a formal meet. They traveled up to Buffalo to throw their runners in the ring for a fresh slate and to set a baseline to plot their future improvements and personal records throughout this fall. Leading the team was Andrew Albrandt, the only senior runner to hit the course in Buffalo.
“The whole team did good, and I think there’s still room to improve for everybody, but we did good,” Albrandt said.
As the season opener, the meet sets the tone for the rest of the year. These first times are the benchmark for the rest of the season according to Gray. He hopes that none of the runners, even the ones who excelled, had their season highs in Buffalo.
He wants to see them improve for the rest of the season and hopefully peak during the state meet. Gray brought seven girls to compete in the 5,000-meter run, as well as eight boys. Two different girls from the team finished in the top 10, both of whom are sophomores. Emily Taper came in eighth place with a time of 24:32.33, while Ana Grant rounded out the top 10 with a time of 24:40.83.
“I didn’t do as well as I wanted to, but there’s always room for improvement,” Taper said. “I think that I could’ve pushed a little bit harder at the end.”
Taper may have physically ran in Buffalo, but mentally she visualized Afton, this year’s site of the state meet. She pictures herself running at state to push herself harder. The next runner from the Herders on the leaderboard was sophomore Rana Mccluer, who came in 17th place with a time of 26:22.37.
For the rest of the Herders girls, Tyne Loyd came in 24th with a time of 29:02.84, Sarah Winger and Gracie Keizer finished in 29th and 30th place, respectively. Winger completed the course in 30:33.13 minutes, while Keizer crossed the finish line in 31:44.76. The final member of the Glenrock girls, Hilda Williams, recorded a time of 33:13.15 and ended in 33th place.
As a team, the girls finished third with a total time just over 2 hours 15 minutes. While the girls team is loaded with sophomore talent, the boys have more veteran leadership. The top two finishers, back-to-back and less than a second apart, were junior twins James and John Halvorsen.
James came in seventh place in 19:31.39 while his brother John finished in 19:31.82, only 43 hundredths of a second between them.
Paxton and Cody Piasecki finished 23rd and 25th, with Albright between them. The Pasecki’s finished the race 20 seconds apart. Paxton crossed the finish line in 21:23.42, and  Cody in 21:43.28. Albrandt’s finishing time of 21:33.91 was solid for the eldest member of the group, someone who carries extra responsibility on his back.
“I have to be a leader and show everybody how it goes and lead them,” he said.
Joel Bryan came in 29th place with a time of 22:15.44, Jarrett Fife finished in 43rd place after ending at 24:28.66 and James Huck was the final member of the school to end his run in Buffalo. Huck completed the course in 27:53:40, good for 46th place.
The Glenrock boys finished as a team in fourth place with a total run time of 1:43:44, just two minutes behind the team from Buffalo High School. All results and growth come right from the top. The runners wouldn’t be able to run at the levels they do without their coaches.
“Coach Gray is probably one of the best coaches I’ve ever had. (Coach) Misti Allen is probably my biggest role model and my biggest influence,” Taper said.
The next race for the team will take place Sept. 7 in Douglas. 


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