Girls Cross Country Strides into the Spotlight


You may have seen them congregating around the picnic tables in the athletic lot after school, or caught a glimpse of them running in a hoard to the Danny Jones death loop, but do you know who they are?

It’s the AMHS Girl’s Cross Country team, and they are in the midst of one of the strangest seasons EVER.

Due to Covid, summer practices began in August, rather than June and July. They ran not at school, but in Mount Pleasant. They missed out on beach day team building. but through all of these adversities, they are maybe the best batch of runners I have seen.

These ladies practice Monday through Thursday, with short, individual runs on Friday, meets on Saturday, and optional practice on Sunday. Monday and Wednesday are speed workouts, which include workouts such as the Combo Coaching Favorite (breaking down a 5k), mile repeats, and hill sprints on Buist street to improve our speed. The other days are long run days, either by mileage or time.

This past Saturday, we had a meet at Riverfront Park in North Charleston. It was a wave start, which means that teams ran 30 seconds apart to increase distancing. Before and after, everyone was required to wear a mask, and no spectators were allowed. This is not the norm for meets, even this year. There are no regulations for COVID, so each host decides what they think the best way to handle the meet will be.

At the Pinewood Invitational at Pinewood Prep (Gwen Hooffstetter)

Here to answer some of my questions is Chaye Bonner, a junior, and Burton McCulley, a freshman, who are both in their first XC season.

Q: How does Cross Country compare to other sports you’ve done?

CB: This is my first year doing cross country and I can confidently say it is completely unique from any other sport I’ve done. Of course there is the competitive aspect of it, but it’s so much more focused on mental strength than I would’ve thought, which I think is a really cool thing to experience.

BM: I used to jog and run in stuff like the bridge run, but this year is the first time I’ve consistently run.

Q: What do you like about XC and why?

CB: I have definitely found a love for the sport because of the team. The camaraderie and morale that is seen at each practice and meet is unlike any other team I’ve ever been a part of and I’m honestly already dreading the end of the season. The feeling when crossing the finish line and seeing all of the varsity runners there cheering you on is a special feeling that I will always bring with me to every race. Running independently doesn’t even compare to the motivation and excitement I feel when I’m at practice and the amount of time spent talking about food is amazing.

BM: Cross country is fun because it’s a solitary sport, but you do it with other people if that makes sense…

Q: What are your favorite pre-meet rituals so far?

CB: Being a relatively new runner, my pre-meet rituals probably make little to no sense when it has to do with actually running, but I swear if I didn’t do them I wouldn’t be able to even get myself to the meets. I wake up at least an hour before I have to leave and to get in the “mental zone” I listen to Pitbull (even if it’s before 6 am). It helps me focus more on my excitement for the race and forget about my nerves. I always eat a protein bar right when I get the meet, even if I’m not hungry, because for obvious reasons I am deathly afraid of being hungry in the middle of a race!

BM: I don’t really have one I just try to drink a lot of water lol.

Q: What did you think about the last meet, and how do you think you did?

CB: The meet on Saturday was definitely my favorite so far. I think it was the first meet everyone could actually run so it was really cool to see the whole team there. Before, I’ve been going into the races with the mindset that I just need to run and not think, but Saturday was the first time I felt more of a competitive mindset as a runner. I can definitely feel myself improving as a runner and I’m pretty sure I PRed! As a team, we’ve figured out how to run in close proximities with each other while racing which has 100% worked in my favor! I’m definitely of running with my teammates and completely forgetting I’m even in a race. Looking ahead and seeing girls on your team pass a boat load of other runners definitely only pushes you to run harder and makes you feel proud as member of the team.

BM: I liked it because i pr’ed and was proud of myself:)

Q: What’s your favorite post-workout snack or meal?

CB: I love how much we talk about food in cross country, it’s literally amazing. I know this is super random, but after I run, especially after meets, all I want is a chicken sandwich. Seriously, it’s amazing.

BM: Smoothies.

So there you have it. Cross Country is truly a special sport, and if we ever get back to normal, come and cheer these girls on at the meets!