A hot start

Wildcats battle heat in another successful meet


Photo from preprunningnerd

The Varsity Boys Cross Country team prepares for a meet at Walnut Grove. With the extreme heat, the runners focused on their physical preparation so they could perform their best. “Us, as runners, can’t control the weather or the conditions we run in, so all we can do is prepare for them,” junior Piercze Marshall said. “The number one most important thing to do the day before and day of the race is to hydrate. By being hydrated, I prevented cramps, being more tired than usual, and heat-exhaustion like we saw happen to other runners.”

Evan Vaslow, MWHS Wildcat News co-Editor-in-Chief

After numerous first place finishes in their first few meets, the Millard West Cross Country team traveled to Walnut Grove Park to try to continue their strong start to the season. The Millard South Invite on Sept. 6, pitted the team not only against other runners, but also against sweltering heat. 

The temperatures, in the upper 80s and into the 90s, impacted both the strategies and preparations for this race. Runners made sure to drink plenty of water beforehand, and run at a controlled pace once the race began. The heat made racing more difficult than normal, but the Wildcats were able to battle through and put up some respectable finishes. 

“Knowing the circumstances of the race, I just hydrated very well,” senior Sam Sudeta said. “My mind wasn’t quite there at the start of the race, but as I kept running, I cleared my mind and I performed very well.”

The first race of the afternoon was the girls JV race. Junior Callie Kirchner’s time of 21:49 was fast enough to earn her third place. Not far behind was senior Niah Kirchner in tenth place, with a finish time of 22:35. Although freshman Parker Heller stuck with Niah Kirchner for the first mile, she fell behind during the second and third miles, yielding a 24th place finish in 23:29. The girls totalled 107 points for a fifth place overall finish.

Following the girls JV race was the boys JV race. Senior Drew Figura was the Wildcats top runner in this race, coming off a first place finish in the Burke Invite a week earlier. Despite running a second slower than his previous race, Figura still finished first with a time of 17:54. Millard West didn’t see another finisher for almost a minute and a half. Junior Logan Yarges finished in 19:12 in 31st place. Senior Christian Naujakitis, who got second place in the Burke Invite, added 45 seconds to his previous time of 18:28, putting him in 33rd place. These struggles from the Wildcats top JV runners left them in sixth place with 162 points.

Next was the girls varsity race. The team looked different in this race than it had in previous races. In the absence of senior Emily Gilbert, who had recently been injured in a car accident, freshman Kate Ebmeier stepped up to race as the Wildcats seventh. 

“I have been running in practice with the other varsity girls and trying to keep pace and stay with them during workouts so I can get closer to them in race times,” Ebmeier said. “I was a bit nervous at first when I found out but also really grateful that I had been chosen and that the coaches trusted me. I was really excited to show what I could do and push myself.”

Junior Isabelle Hartnett was the first Wildcat finisher in this race, taking fourth place with a time of 19:28. Nearly 90 seconds later, senior Sydney Beaudin finished in 18th place. With a total of only 92 points, the girls took home second place.

While the runners in the boys varsity race looked the same, their finish order was quite different than previous races. Junior Piercze Marshall, who usually is the third fastest Wildcat, was the first runner from Millard West to finish. His time of 16:20 earned him second place. He was followed by senior Seth Fey, coming in at 16:35 in third place. Junior Joey Hartnett finished four seconds later in sixth. Missing from the Wildcats top finishers was senior Sam Kirchner, who didn’t finish until 16:50, in tenth place. The Wildcats top five runners all finished in the top ten with a 1-5 split of just 29 seconds, earning them first place with just 28 points. 

“Our team established a race plan before the meet in order to improve our times,” Marshall said. “Although I didn’t fully stick to that plan, I utilized it enough to be able to pull off a good performance at the meet.”

While the JV teams weren’t as dominant as they were in the Burke Invitational, most of the Wildcats are satisfied with their performance, but are still hungry for more. The varsity teams will be back in action on Sept. 18 in Pella, Iowa at the Heartland Classic.