’22 Cross Country Seniors

The 2022 cross country and track seniors haven’t just run the past four years they have overcome obstacles, broken records, balanced being a multi-sport athlete, went from running distance to pole vaulting, run marathons for fun, showed what it meant to be a leader and built long-lasting friendships.

The relationships these athletes have made go beyond teammates. They have built strong friendships, gained brothers and sisters, and have learned so much. Most of the runners joined the team because of their siblings. Sebass Pennisi’s sister ran in high school and convinced him to join and Matt Taylor joined because his mom wanted him to join the sport as did many others. Jack Lowdermilk even had Creighton Recavarren recruit him. Even though it wasn’t necessarily their choice to join they are glad they did. They built strong friendships and formed memories. Kyler Fronning said his favorite part was “the community. You learn to be a part of a team, running with others and showing up to stuff.” He has built strong relationships with so many of the guys on the team. Similarly, Ethan McCallister has been on the teams for all four years and has been a captain for two of them.  Ethan’s favorite part was cheering for people, being at meets, giving it his all, and being able to support others. He loves supporting his teammates who are also his friends and loves seeing them succeed. Running makes him happy and he is so glad he was a part of the team.  The cross country team is always trying to have fun; from pasta parties to choosing individual themes, the pasta prom and alumni meet, the guys loved running in the cold rain at Greenlevel their freshman year. This team has created some fun lifelong memories. 

This team has taught athletes how to build strength and how to overcome struggles. Ashley Neall said, “it taught (her) to overcome mental setbacks but to also persevere through hardships throughout (her) life.” She has overcome the phenomenon of letting the idea that she isn’t good enough keep her from striving to do her best. Many athletes including Ashley live off the idea of “just doing it”. It helps them overcome hard times when they feel as though they will never achieve their goals. Many athletes have also struggled with injuries that they have had to overcome. Ethan McCallister injured his hip his sophomore year and had to learn to take a step back so he could heal and this was extremely difficult for him. He had to learn how to take care of his body but once he healed he came back stronger and grew even more. Jonathan Taylor, another athlete who put in hours of hard work, has wanted to go to Friday Night Lights, one of the invitationals meets for the cross country since freshman year and his hard work paid off and he got to go his senior year. Kyler also got to go to the meet, making one of his favorite memories, sliding into the finish line. The hard work these athletes put in pays off and creates some amazing memories.  Many of the seniors have experienced senioritis and a lack of motivation but they found a way to come back and run more.

Gracie Treichler’s life has been changed by the team. Originally her mom’s friends made her join but she fell in love with it and stuck with it because of the people. “The people are super supportive and welcoming, it’s a family-based support system and they are all there for each other.” Her favorite part is how if you have any stress or nerves you can go to practice and de-stress and people will be there for you. The team has also taught her so much. It taught her to surround herself with the people that will be there for her. And to chase after things you want. Cross country has impacted her life in multiple ways and has helped her go through hard times. When Gracie struggles with mental health she is able to go to her teammates and they are all there for her and willing to support her in any way. Gracie has had the opportunity to run at states for track and she said it was the greatest experience ever. She got to see the team in a different light and build stronger relationships.Gracie has loved her time running at Apex and wants to tell younger runners to not give up. “When you feel like you’re dying in a race keep going. The feeling after finishing an amazing race is the best feeling.” She has found a family here at Apex, just like so many others.

Lots of the runners do more than just run. Lexi McLaughlin has been playing soccer since she was five years old and when freshman year rolled around she had to choose between cross country and club soccer. Since most of her friends ran cross country she chose to run instead of playing club soccer. But she would also play soccer in the spring. Lexi has found it hard to manage time, balance the sports, and get enough rest but playing these two sports has helped her learn to work hard. Lexi has loved being on the cross country team, especially going to cross country camp her junior year. She wants to tell freshmen to give it their all because you never know if you will be good at it. Some other athletes who do more than just run are Jonathon Taylor and Creighton Recavarren. They have been pole vaulting for most of high school. Jonathan Taylor has loved running with his friends and cheering his friends on. He said that cross country actually helped him with pole vaulting because of all the endurance he has built up. Jonathan’s piece of advice is to stick with it and don’t give up. Creighton originally joined because his parents wanted him to play a sport and because his sister did it but he quickly fell in love with it. He has loved the summer workouts, hanging out with his teammates and going to cross country camp. Creighton decided he would try pole vault because it was a more obscure sport and would be fun to try. Creighton has also run several half marathons and two marathons. He has loved doing this because not many people are willing to go through the challenge. Creighton said, “(he ) might not be that fast at 5k but he has an energy that he can slowly burn and run really long distances.” Creighton loved his time running at Apex and his advice is, “don’t be quiet, give yourself some persona, make sure the upper-level students know you. You will enjoy it more and you will become more than just a name on a roster.” For some sports is more than just running.

So many athletes have put in hours and hours of hard work to make it to where they are today. Sarah Mitchell is one of them. She has broken several course records, and school records and has run some amazing times. Her brother was the person that got her into running and she never looked back.  Sarah said that “breaking records and making it to states honestly felt really good.” In her first two years of high school, she worked through injuries and figured out running in general. But by junior and senior year she was at her best. “It felt like the culmination of four years of hard work and that (her) training really paid off.” Her goals seemed out of reach but they soon became attainable. Sarah has dreamed of going to nationals and making it to the track season of her junior year. Each national she has been to has been an “incredible experience” and helped her grow as a runner. Sarah said the team’s impact has been immeasurable. She has finally found something that feels like a family, they help encourage her to grow as a runner and as a person. Sarah has run some fantastic days, one of those being 17:26.96 for a 5k, 10:37 for a 3200 (two-mile), and 4:52 for the mile. Sarah has worked so hard but it hasn’t always been easy. She has overcome injuries, and Covid was really difficult for her. But she was able to build a more vital grit. The piece of advice she has for freshmen is to give it your all. She would “rather finish a race with no regrets instead of knowing (she) could have gone faster.”

The seniors had some great advice for the incoming freshmen, here is some of the advice they have: “Stay motivated.” Jack Lowdermilk, “Understand that not being the  center of attention doesn’t mean you aren’t understood and seen.” Kyler Fronning, “Build your bank credit now guys’ ‘ Parker Bolton, “Suck up to the seniors” everyone. Overall the main piece of advice is don’t give up. Something a lot of the runners have learned, and have worked to accomplish.  And finally, one quote to all the current runners is “imagine if the conference was at Sugg Farm ” Alvin Sirma. 

The cross country team here at Apex is more than a team, it’s a family and so many athletes are happy and lucky to call it home. 

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