Raptors Girls Cross Country Team takes flight with first meet at Pinewood Prep


A typical weekday practice held at AMHS

The dismissal bell rings at 3:30 and one group of girls avoids the chaotic migration to the parking lot. Instead of running to their cars to attempt to beat the after school traffic, the AMHS Girls Cross Country team meets for their runs around Park Circle or the Danny Jones track. But who are these girls clustering beneath the giant oak in the gravel lot after school? What are their drives and passions? What kind of people willingly join a sport subjected to runs in the sweltering August heat? 

The team has been gathering tri-weekly this past summer and daily since school began, opening their season with their first meet at Pinewood Prep this past Saturday. The nine Varsity runners took off at 8:30 AM on the Pinewood football field (also the scene of the previous night’s football game), with two runners placing in the top ten. Anna Hollister (10) finished sixth with Caroline Tiller (11) close behind in ninth place. Seven ladies ran in the JV race, with a performance that truly showed the team’s hard work in the previous weeks. Two runners from JV also placed within the top ten: Burton McCulley (10) placed fourth and Isla Todd (9) hit a fast finish to secure ninth. Overall, the Varsity team placed third with a score of 96, squashing the fourth place team, Bishop England, by 16 points. The JV girls placed second overall, the first place team unfortunately being Bishop England, but still smashing the rest of the competition.

Cate Arrants (9) and Abby Poole (10) make way on the Pinewood Invitational course in action shot snapped by Caroline Horton (12)
Chaye Bonner’s (12) homemade hair ribbon sways in the momentum of her stride

The team partook in their second meet just this past Wednesday at Phillip Simmons, with twenty one total AMHS runners on the girls roster. After a speedy take off not around but through an Iron Horse football practice, the runners rounded the course only to be struck by a fierce fit of rain around five minutes into the race. Nevertheless, the race continued with official results yet to be posted.

This season re-opens doors previously closed via Covid-19 in the previous year. For example, last year restricted meet attendants to runners and coaches, no spectators. This year the sport sees restrictions lessened, as many frantic parents chased their children around the course and congregated in the little shade surrounding the $25 t-shirt table. Four-legged friends are also welcome to spectate, as several prized pooches were seen perusing the Pinewood course alongside their owners on Saturday.

Despite a season still likely to be heavily impacted by Covid-19 and other unpredictable events (*cough cough* the sewage incident of August 23 *cough*), the team has persevered, holding several unofficial practices led by returning runners. The team has relied heavily on such leadership due to the influx of so many new runners. One of these leaders, four-year runner and team captain, Leddy Scheurer (12), describes her hope for the team’s upcoming season as nothing but “fantastic.”

Now, for these new runners. After a bittersweet goodbye to many seniors last year, the team has rebounded, gaining many new members across every grade at AMHS. So I take these questions to the runners, new and old, hoping to gain insight on their minds and this year’s team dynamic:

NW: What kind of pre-run or pre-meet rituals do you have?

Lulu Massenet (11), joining the team this year from The Dark Side (Bishop England), says she merely “gets hyped up.” Simple enough. Lulu and I share a favorite course, Military Magnet, so I feel a bond with the ex-Bishop already. Lulu has also expressed her excitement to accost her former school with “daddy’s money” chants, rather than be on the receiving end. Anna Hollister (10) stoically provides a one-word answer: “poop.” If that’s what it takes to get into the zone like Anna, I’m willing to give it a try.

NW: What’s your favorite music to run to?

Kate Walldorf (12) presented her extensive and curated running playlist, notably featuring “Can’t Tell Me Nothing”, a song that truly speaks to the athlete and senior class president’s inner fire. Chaye Bonner (12) states that she prefers to “run to her thoughts”, a feat I consider impressive due to the repulsive sound of my mid-run gasps for air.

Lastly, I ask the team a question to really get into their heads: What do you think REALLY happened to Princess Diana?

Caroline Tiller (11) abruptly answers that the royal was “murdered” as “there was a motive”. The other two team captains, Kate Walldorf and Leddy Scheurer, are quick to agree. Glad to know that the 2021 team is open to conspiracy. The incident was further discussed over some post-meet coffee. Kate Walldorf is adamant that the tragedy “was no accident.”

And that’s the word on the birds!! These Lady Raptors look forward to a successful and fun season, already cementing themselves as a force to be reckoned with in the cross country world. For more pictures and tales of the team, you can visit the newly-established team Instagram, @amhsgirlsxc or Ms. Hooffstetter’s room, as she is always happy to share the latest and greatest in cross country news. 

Stay tuned for coverage on Boys Cross Country to come in the next Talon issue…