On Saturday the Scenic Middle School Cross Country team will compete in the Oregon Junior Olympics, which makes sense, as Scenic’s runners pretty much train like Olympic Athletes.
“It’s hard,” said head coach Alex Grover. “You know, we start out in the summer. It’s 100 degrees out. We’re running every day. Kids can barely run a mile. It takes them a few practices before they get those higher distances in.”
That intense training is paying off. Scenic won the state championships last month.
“It’s really exciting,” said Derek Tripp. “As soon as we heard the 2nd place team called, we knew we won.”
“The whole time the wind was blowing,” said Andy Monroe. “We’re trying to add up all the times, and we kept getting different times each time. We all started cheering, and then when they announced our team, it was just like a good feeling.”
The team’s success was aided by the work of Tripp and Monroe, who each placed in the top five. They are both captains on the team and each embodies that intense work ethic instilled by Grover.
“Kids like Derek and Andy, they take that to heart, and it’s just not word-speak to them,” said Grover. “It’s their actions that shine through, and it’s that type of leadership that the rest of these kids tend to gravitate to. They see what makes them successful and they realize that that’s a big part of the equation to make themselves successful as well.”
That’s part of the team equation. Despite Derek and Andy leading the pack, Grover advises them to go back and join the rest of the team trailing behind them.
“They’re not running for themselves,” said Grover. “They’re running for their teammates. They’re out there to make their teammates better as well as themselves better.”
“I look at it like, I know my guys are behind me,” said Monroe. “I know I don’t have to go out there and try to just take first. I know that I have a team that’s going to help us finish good.”
That selflessness is something Grover doesn’t typically see in middle schoolers.
“It’s very rare I have leadership of this caliber on a cross country team,” said Grover. “I wouldn’t say this is a normal thing to see kids that do it the right way every day like these kids do, and like I said, it’s infectious. It’s just kind of grown onto the whole team.”
A team of 12 and 13 year olds that are training and competing like Junior Olympians.