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A Race to the Finish

Camas Cross Country

The air was crisp and cool, a perfect fall day. All around athletes clad in singlets and racing spikes, full of nerves and an impending amount of excitement for the coming minutes. They jog to the line, waiting on pins and needles for the starting call, in a flash, they are off, beginning what many describe as the most painful but rewarding three miles of their lives. These are the unsung athletes of Camas High School, the ones who willingly do what most view as punishment. They are Camas Cross Country.

Runners pose for a picture after a grueling race at Seaside High School's Tree Course Challenge (left to right- Adam Jensen (Sr.), Jacob Bedont (Sr.), Seth Bradshaw (Sr.), Jack Kelly (Sr.), and Nick Carter (Sr.) )
Runners pose for a picture after a grueling race at Seaside High School’s Tree Course Challenge (left to right- Adam Jensen (Sr.), Jacob Bedont (Sr.), Seth Bradshaw (Sr.), Jack Kelly (Sr.), and Nick Carter (Sr.) ) Courtesy Sophie Muro.

Over the past few years, the Camas Cross Country team has created quite the name for themselves, claiming district, State, and even regional titles. Their sport is running, plain and simple, effortlessly striding over some of the region’s most difficult and trying courses and trails the Pacific Northwest has to offer. While to some running three miles seems like a mere fraction of a distance, these athletes claim otherwise, expanding on the intensive training, hard work, and dedication that such a feat requires.

This hard work is all worth it in the end, though, as Senior Natalie Shergill explains, “That feeling when you cross the finish line knowing you have nothing left in you is beyond exceptional,” he says, “in that short moment you realize, all those tears, all that sweat, and excruciating pain was one-hundred percent worth it.” When these runners cross the line, they do so knowing they gave it their absolute all and that their physical pain is temporary, while the pride they carry from such an accomplishment will last forever.

But it is not only physical struggle these runners face, but also during races many will attest to a mental struggle. A constant desire to quit be it for the raging fire that burning from within, categorized as the “second-mile struggle”, or be it simply a lack of will to finish. These runners learn to combat this urge, to stay mentally tough, and to push through this pain in order to finish the race.

 

After finishing their last ever cross country race, seniors Lauren Johnston, Sophie Muro, Maddie Wight, Natalie Shergill, Rani Floyd, Jesikah Bass, and Bella Haaja celebrate
After finishing their last ever cross country race, seniors Lauren Johnston, Sophie Muro, Maddie Wight, Natalie Shergill, Rani Floyd, Jesikah Bass, and Bella Haaja celebrate. Courtesy Sophie Muro.

This is a skill that is learned largely through the power of teamwork. Being one of the largest teams on campus, a no-cut sport comprised of both girls and boys, the cross country team brings together a diverse array of high schoolers, providing them an outlet and home to meet new people, discover friendships, and build a watertight support system that is founded upon tradition and encouragement.

Between weekly team dinners, parties and get-togethers, to the countless inside jokes shared during practice, they are bonded by their passion for running and woven together by a strong thread of love and friendship that has been built season after season.

Jacob Bedont, a senior, describes the community of this team, stating, “The great thing about cross country is that just as much as people are here to become a better, faster, stronger athlete, we’re here to have fun.”

While the team boasts a large array of underclassmen, there are also a handful of seniors on the team who were a bit teary eyed during the final moments of their last race. It marked the end of an era, an experience, and a set of memories that will stay with these students for years to come.

Seth Bradshaw, a senior who has been on the team since Freshman year, exemplifies this, stating, “The Cross Country team is a family, in which every member enhances the experience. It has been a great four years full of memories.”

Camas ladies hold their coach, Laurie Porter, after their last race of the season
Camas ladies hold their coach, Laurie Porter, after their last race of the season. Courtesy Sophie Muro.

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