Cross country team searching for success


Julia Day, Reporter

Graham High School’s cross country teams are looking to have another successful season in the 2019-2020 school year. Cross country is a fall sport that challenges high school runners to show stamina and endurance through 5K (3.2 mile) races and middle school runners to show the same in 4K (2.1 miles) races. The team members strive to achieve their own personal goals and improve the overall team. 

Graham’s team is coached by Al Macnaughton, a lifelong runner of 47 years, who’s been coaching at different levels for 30 years. He says, “I really have a passion for running.” He also explained how he was drawn to coaching because of an experience in high school, where he knew more than his inexperienced coach. “Even though I was running, I was helping to coach the team, and I really enjoyed that.”

Coach Al is also assisted by one of Graham’s guidance counselors, Beverly Proffitt.  Even though this is her first time coaching cross country and she has never run in the past, she agrees that she has enjoyed the experience. “I’ve really been impressed with the dedication and commitment from the students,” Ms. Proffitt says.

The boy’s varsity is lead by senior Daniel Pearce, who has been on the team for four years. Even though there is technically not enough male members to qualify for an official team (Graham only has 4 members when there has to be 5), Daniel says, “We all want to make it far individually.” 

The girl’s varsity team is led by seniors Elise Clary and Julia Day. In the past two years, the girl’s team has won conference twice, regionals once, and gone to the state meet twice. They are hoping to continue the string of successes this year. Top runner for the girls, Katie Benson (11), says that her goals are to beat her personal record, and for the team to make it back to state. Rebecca Smith (11)  also agrees, stating, “I hope we make it back to state.” Coach Al says, “I would like to see the girls team make it to state. It’s going to be a challenge, but I think we can do it but it’s going to be another one of those years where everything has to fall in place.”

In addition to the high school cross country team, the sport provides opportunities for Graham Middle School students to participate as well. Jacob Toney, a 7th grader and first time runner, says, “I do like cross country, because it gives me a chance to learn how to run and be more energetic.” 

All-in-all, Graham cross country is a rewarding sport for its participants. Katie Benson says, “For me, it’s the satisfaction of finishing a race, doing how you want, placing how you want, and getting the time that you want.” Even though this year will bring success, it will also bring changes as three top seniors graduate. “I feel really good about the future,” said Coach Al  optimistically. “We have some very talented runners coming up.”