The two-time defending state champion St. Joseph’s Academy cross country team participated in the annual four-day preseason running clinic at Lake Rosemond north of St. Francisville.
The team spent four days and three nights at the end of July completing a variety of run sessions in the hills of Tunica, playing competitive team games, performing team-building exercises and setting team goals for the 2018 season.
Each day began with a 6 a.m. wake-up call to get ready for the morning run. Runs ranged from a 5.5- to 7.2-mile trail run on day one to the 7.5- to 10-mile road run on day four. Days were filled with competitively scored team games that were tested in a round-robin format. Each evening, the runners participated in team discussions and team-building exercises.
Elected as team council members for the 2018 season were senior Lauren Hendry, senior Leanne Livingston, junior Isabelle Brown, sophomore Kate Ritchie and freshman Maddie Kate Gardiner. At the end of each day, camp moms selected the outstanding teammate of the day. They were freshman Olivia Hotstream, senior Leanne Livingston, junior Mary Claire Saia and sophomore Anna Camille Eagleton.
“Our girls had an outstanding camp,” said head coach Mark LaHaye. “The games at this camp were the most competitive I’ve ever seen. On the final day of camp, we always drive down Irondale Road to the old Weyanoke Post Office off of Highway 66, which is roughly 10 miles from the inn, for our final long run. This season, we had 19 runners – the most ever – complete the full 10-mile run.”
“Our summer running camp is always such an awesome way to end our summer training and start our season,” said senior and defending individual state champion Lauren Hendry. “As a team, we are able to bond and spend a weekend together. I feel that we are so much closer as a team after we get home from camp. It is also a time for us to gather as a team and set goals for our upcoming season.”
Junior Isabelle Brown said this year’s camp was a great experience. “I look forward to cross country camp every summer,” she said. “It is such an amazing time to bond with both new and old teammates. We have done a fantastic job of balancing fun with hard work this summer and know it will pay off. We are more driven than ever to accomplish our goals, and there is no doubt in my mind that we will exceed them. I am so proud of how much work we put in this summer, and I’m eager to get back to racing and step it up for this year’s competition.”
Senior Taylor Winters said the camp was a great opportunity for the runners to bond. “The camp allowed a team of 29 girls to unite as one on a mission to pursue excellence in running,” she said. “The overall team bond between all grade levels grew stronger throughout the camp during the physically challenging games and long runs. The camp set the tone for the upcoming season and gave the team the opportunity to grow closer together. I cannot wait to see what the season has in store for us.”
Freshman Madeline Gardiner said she enjoyed getting to know her teammates and setting goals for the upcoming season. “My thoughts going into this season are really pushing myself and seeing how fast I can really go,” she said. “I’m looking forward to this season a lot, and I think we can achieve our goals as a team and individually.”
Sophomore Mary Claire Saia said the camp is one of her favorite team activities. “It’s the first time all summer we really get to know one another, and I feel like this team has clicked extremely quickly,” she said. “We all worked together to get to know each other and push ourselves past our limits. I’m so excited to show all 18 underclasswomen what this team is all about. We’ve set some high goals for ourselves this season, but there’s no doubt in my mind we’re going to work harder than ever to achieve them.”
Sophomore Kathryn Ritchie said this year’s camp was a “hard, fund, competitive and bonding four days. I am so excited for this upcoming season, not just because we are expected to do well, but because of our team. Camp definitely brought us closer together, and I feel like we all work so well together. We will have no trouble pushing each other to succeed and, with that, we will have a better chance to meet our team and personal goals.”
Senior Leanne Livingston said coming back from an injury last spring allowed her to gain a unique perspective on the team. “As I have been getting back into shape this summer, I have been watching the team from the back burner,” she said. “It has been really neat for me to see the team in this light. So much hard work and dedication goes into our training, and I can’t wait to see it all pay off in just a few short weeks. Go, Stickers!”
Camp chef and photographer was Tina LaHaye. Camp moms were Angelle Brown, Angelle Saia, Brittney Hendry, Jennifer Ritchie and Karen Saunders.
Mindy Brodhead Averitt