Cross-Country team’s hopes and numbers are high going into new season

Colin Gregory, Staff Writer

At the beginning of practice, the members of the Blue Valley Cross Country team run a mile.
After stretching, they run some more and keep running. They end up running a total of five miles for every practice.
The runners are also expected to train significantly in the off-season.
“I ran 35 miles a week and lifted virtually every day,” senior member Alec Butenas said. “It’s about two and a half hours a day, six days a week.”
Coach Diana Huber said she believes in maintaining the training regimen.
“We encourage the runners to train as much as possible while still being able to enjoy themselves,” she said.
With the largest cross country team in BV’s history, Huber said her job becomes more difficult with the growing number of kids.
“I have to be figuring out new ways to organize practices and deal with things like clothing demands,” Huber said.
There have been other changes made regarding the high number of runners.
“Well, we’ve had to add two new coaches in as many years in order to deal with the growing population,” assistant coach Kyle Braden said. “We’ve been forced to become more organized, even when it comes to little things, like posting schedules.”
As a senior leader, runner Colton Donahue said there is an enhanced sense of responsibility.
“The enlarged number of people puts more responsibility on me as a senior to keep track of things, as well as to be on time at practice,” Donahue said.
He said he holds the responsibility of being a role model for underclassmen.
“I try to give them the best tips possible for success,” Donahue said. “I need to be someone who sets an example.”
With a record number of cross country participants, Butenas said he knows it is even more important to be a good leader.
“I try to help out and give tips whenever possible, especially if I notice [underclassmen] are doing something wrong,” he said.
Butenas said, since the start of the season, everybody has had high expectations.
“We’re going to win State, man — I really think we can,” Butenas said. “We also want to be in the top 25 of the school’s history.”
Huber said she has aspirations for the teams to go to State and for Donahue to be the undefeated State champion.
Donahue said he is equally determined.
“I want to break my own personal record,” he said.
Braden said he enjoys the friendships made with students.
“Getting to know all these kids that I wouldn’t ordinarily get to know is why I love coaching cross country,” Braden said.