On Sept. 7 at Yongsan International School of Seoul, the cross-country team sprinted across the finish line for the second time marking the end to another five-kilometer race. The team has already set new records, with returning members continuously improving and new members displaying much potential to make up for the decrease in team size.
“The main benefit of having a small team is that the team is very organized,” said Daniel Kim (12), captain of the varsity cross country team. “Previously, we had to divide into four or five groups for training, but now we can handle the whole team in just two or three groups. When the experienced members left, the team first thought that we would be much weaker. However, we realized that the new members were setting really good running times. So actually, this year’s team is stronger compared to the previous years and we have high hopes for shooting for an award this year.”
While last year’s team had around 40 runners, this year’s team has only 29. Nonetheless, having a smaller team means that there is more attention directed to each individual runner, a change in regimen that has helped the team fine-tune its performance. According to Kevin Kim (10), varsity cross country athlete, each team member receives a significant amount of individualized help, especially during practices. In addition, a smaller team helps the members form closer bonds with each other.
“During the cross-country practices, I could get rid of the stress from a hectic school day because of the friendly and hard-working mood of the team,” Kevin said. “Truthfully, I think the cross-country team has some of the kindest people in the whole school. We care a lot about each other and push each other harder everyday. Being with my team always reenergizes me.”
Despite the monumental changes, the cross country team hopes to rank among the top three from 16 other schools from the Korean American Interscholastic Activities Conference league this year, energized by the fact they faced few difficulties in achieving the same goal in the previous years. Although they have had only a couple practices so far, the coaches reaffirm this goal.
“We can already see a lot of improvement compared to the beginning of the year,” said Tyler Miller, cross country coach. “Although it is a really short season, the progress the team has made in just a few weeks of practice is amazing. The coaches are all hoping for good results, but we also just want students to see that the more they put into running, the more they achieve at the same time.”