XC State Winning Season Comes to an End

Kristina gets the inside scoop from some of the cross country runners.
Addie Siembieda 24 leads a group
Addie Siembieda ’24 leads a group
Kristina Lane ’27

AA cross country wrapped up an incredible season with the state tournament on November 11 at Academy. The boys team took second and the girls won first in the team rankings. With such a great season to reflect on, we interviewed a few of the runners from the teams to get their take.
This season was obviously an amazing one, and it was reflected in both the team scores and personal scores throughout the fall. Quite a few runners on the team accomplished the time goals they were aiming for, some of the highest in the state this year. Nicholas Ponte ‘26 got under 16 minutes this year in several separate races and was the first on the team to finish in nearly every race, including state, where he ran just above 16 minutes and finished fourth overall. He says, “[This season] was different as a team because we were a lot closer to winning state this year than we were last year.” The boys took second to Los Alamos, ending a fabulous season.

We did a really good job at picking up each other’s slack. If somebody had a bad race, there was always somebody to pick it up. If somebody fell behind, somebody was always there to push forward. We reached a balance.

— Addie Simbieda

The girls beat out Los Alamos for the first time in four years, ending their season with an undefeated record. Senior Addie Siembieda ‘24 comments, “I think winning state was definitely a big goal of mine, you know, being a senior and this being my last shot. I remember when we beat Los Alamos, the first meet of the year. And that’s kind of when we realized, ‘we can pull this off, we can do this.’” “Everyone just moved up and ran faster this year,” adds Siembieda. “We did a really good job at picking up each other’s slack. If somebody had a bad race, there was always somebody to pick it up. If somebody fell behind, somebody was always there to push forward. We reached a balance.”
That balance is what ultimately pushed the Academy teams to such a high level, but it also made for a fun and easygoing team environment. “There’s so many people in the team that I would have never talked to, but because of the team, I’m able to socialize with them and say hi to them and really lean on them,” says Ella Henderson ‘25. “Cross country teams are special because no one really cares where you’re at. They’re just there to talk with you and have some fun.” That team spirit really helped bond the team together, and helped make fast friendships among the runners.
Captains Sofia Steffen ‘24, Addie Siembieda ‘24, and Thomas Wray ‘24 brought back an element from their freshman year on the cross country team: meet beads. After every meet, each runner who participated would get a special bead for that meet. Shapes and colors varied, but it served as a shared souvenir for each meet. “That’s why we brought it back this year,” Siembieda recalls. “It was just a little thing that made us feel more like a team.” Lots of these little things characterized this year’s cross country season, from the smoothie runs during preseason to the hype circles the team did before every meet. Even just being there with the team was a bonding experience in its own right. “When you run with someone every day, and you put your body through that stress and that pain and that hard work together, it really brings you closer,” explained Siembieda. “People often say that cross country is an individual sport. And that’s kind of true. But this year, I really felt like we were a team. And it didn’t feel cutthroat, it didn’t feel malicious. It was so positive and so nice.”
One incredible thing about both cross country teams this year was the amount of young talent. Six of the seven varsity runners on the girls’ side were underclassmen, and so were five of the boys’ varsity. There were also plenty more athletes to fill in varsity spots than other years. “We had a stronger team this year and we had a deeper team this year, so that when somebody got injured, we had two or three or four runners on our JV who could come up and run varsity times,” says Siembieda. Of the 68 runners this year, only eight will be graduating; Siembieda is the only varsity runner who will leave. “I don’t know what the middle school program looks like these days,” confesses Siembieda. “But I mean, if the last three years are any indication of what we’re getting, I think we’re gonna have a really strong program for a really long time.”

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