JV cross country attempts to inspire, create tone for varsity

Isaac Pasley

The JV cross country runners have a way of instilling a spark in their varsity peers.
Whenever the cross-country team competes, the JV team always races before the varsity team. As a result, the JV team sets the tone for the meet. The varsity runners watch the JV runners closely, and if they do well, it motivates the varsity runners to emulate the JV’s tactics.
“One of the most important roles [of the JV] is to be there and cheer on our varsity,” senior Emily Smith, a JV runner, said. “We can give them pointers about whether their footing’s good or bad and so on.”
The JV’s contribution in supporting the varsity runners creates a way of bonding that brings the two different teams together.
“The cross country team is sort of unique because, unlike most other sports, we all practice together. We all do the same things, [and] participate in the same workouts,” Smith said. “There’s sort of a special bond.”
And so far this season, this bond has translated to success. The boys’ and girls’ varsity teams swept their first two meets, the Liberty Invitational Sept. 3 and the Forest Park Invitational in St. Louis on Sept. 10. In the Palatine Invitational, held near Chicago Sept. 24, the boys finished second, just three points behind the winners.
Even as the calendar changed, the team’s successes continued. Oct. 1 the runners swept the Parkway West Invitational, and most recently, Oct. 7 at the Border Wars meet in St. Charles, the teams swept once again.
Throughout this period, the JV teams have been equally successful. At the Forest Park Invitational, both the boys’ and girls’ teams won second place. At Palatine, the JV boys finished eighth and the girls placed tenth; finally, at Parkway West, the boys placed first, and the girls finished third.
As the joint success of both teams has repeatedly shown, the JV runners know that their attendance is important and can make the difference between winning and losing a meet.
“I think our presence makes a big difference,” Smith said. “If we’re not there, [the varsity runners] feel like something’s missing. They just don’t do as well.”
Smith said, the JV runners have proven valuable to the varsity’s successes throughout the fall. At every meet and practice, the JV serves double duty: not only do they push themselves to do well, but also to set a good example for their varsity teammates to follow.
“We try to get varsity to do well,” JV sophomore runner Drew Floyd said. “We motivate them to do well as best we can.”
Coach Neal Blackburn wishes the JV team just as well as the varsity. In his opinion, both teams serve important roles in developing a strong team.
“I want them all to each get their own shot,” Blackburn said. “It’s their opportunity to grow in the program.”
While they may receive less publicity when compared to the varsity team, Blackburn still acknowledges the role the JV runners fill on behalf of the whole cross country program.
“I think the junior varsity team is important,” Blackburn said. “They have the ability to inspire.”
By Isaac Pasley