The Student Voice of North Allegheny Senior High School

The Uproar

The Student Voice of North Allegheny Senior High School

The Uproar

The Student Voice of North Allegheny Senior High School

The Uproar

Off to the Races

After a summer of training, NAXC has its sights set again on the long run.
courtesy of Jane Kynaston
Senior runner Eva Kynaston leads the pack at a recent NAXC race versus Butler.

The 2023 Cross Country Team has one of the largest rosters in North Allegheny athletics, but each runner agrees on a common goal – cross the finish line. 

Though the team is a perennial powerhouse, winning never comes easily, and Head Coach John Neff knows it.

“We want to bring younger people along to fill in the varsity rolls,” says Neff. “We probably have 20 kids who are trying to fill those spots, so the biggest challenge is trying to set the younger kids up to contribute and be successful and make them confident enough to succeed,” he said.

Over the summer, Neff provided his team with a running academy at Pie Traynor in North Park to prepare them for the season. Many runners, like junior Jack Bertram, used the opportunity to have fun and build strength and endurance. 

I enjoyed the time to take part in the sport I love without having to worry about competition,” Bertram said. “Summers are nice because we can just focus on relaxing and building up fitness.”

The tradition that marks the beginning of each new school season is a cherished one — the time trial, where every team member must run a 3.1 mile long course. They receive a time, and their individual goal for the rest of the season is to cut seconds or minutes off the given time.  

Kendall Lucas, a junior and a varsity runner, said her favorite part of the time trial is immediately after the run.

It’s just that moment when you all just did something really hard, and the whole team unites around it.

— Kendall Lucas, NAXC junior

“Everyone is going around asking how it felt, getting each other water, and cooling down together,” Lucas said. “It’s a truly special moment when everyone on the team is in the same boat. It is the first all-out 5k of the year, and everyone is nervous beforehand. But after that, it is a whole different mood. It’s just that moment when you all just did something really hard and the whole team unites around it.” 

Last year, the top boys and girls runners made it to the PIAA tournament. Senior James Behrend, a top varsity runner, is aiming to return this year.

I hope for our team to win states, to run under 16 minutes for 5k, and to place top 10 individually at the state meet,” Behrend said.

In fact, Neff’s top performers are looking to keep on running after the season ends.

Eva Kynaston, a senior and top varsity runner on the girls’ team, said she loves the sport too much to let it end in high school.

“I plan on running in college, as I feel that without running, I am less myself,” Kynaston said. During the short breaks in between seasons, I never feel like I have the same amount of energy and excitement. Additionally, my teammates and the sport itself have helped push me to places I had never dreamed of and develop the best version of myself.”

But Neff manages the team like a family, and the senior runners are coming to terms with the fact that this is their final season with NAXC. 

It’s honestly really sad to think this is my last year,” senior Michael Gauntner, top varsity runner on the boys team, said.” I’ve been doing the sport since 7th grade, all the way back with Coach Winschel. The team has become my family, and it’s going to be hard for me when the season comes to a close end. I want to try and make this year one of the best for both me and the team.”

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About the Contributor
Scout Gilliland
Scout Gilliland, Staff Writer
Scout Gilliland is a junior at NASH and this is her first year writing for The Uproar. She runs for the NA Cross Country Team, plays the flute in the Band, and dances at Michele's School of Dance. In her free time, she hangs out with her family and friends and likes to be involved in her church.  

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