Amidst the consistent chatter of family members and onlookers, a hush falls over Asheville Christian Academy Women’s Varsity Cross Country runners as they are first to approach the line on Asheville School’s track. They nervously adjust their watches, complete last-minute drills, and prepare to run a two-mile race hosted by Carolina Day School. On the other side of the infield, the ACA Men’s Varsity team anxiously begins the warm up drill routine in anticipation of their race following the women.

On Wednesday, August 16, the ACA Cross Country teams competed against CDS’s team in a friendly preseason competition. Although this race was not scored on a win/loss basis, both teams presented great potential for the upcoming season. Sydney Brynn, one of ACA’s assistant coaches, commented after the race, “We have some work to do, but have a solid foundation to build on!”

Overall, men’s and women’s teams had impressive performances. Eighth-grader Katie Rudins was first to finish for the women’s team with a time of 13:03. She was closely followed by sophomore Rachel Lanter and freshman Chloe Gilbert, with times of 13:08 and 13:26 respectively. On the men’s side, sophomore Jax Ledford was first with a time of 11:27. He too was closely followed by sophomore Alex Rudins and freshman Spencer Young, with times of 12:13 and 12:14 respectively. On both the men’s and women’s teams, there were several runners who demonstrated an exceptional last 100 meter finish. In the coming months, remember to look for sophomore Harrison Northrup and junior Ivy-Carter Young, as they were also hot on the heels of the race’s leaders..

Regardless of the statistics, ACA’s Cross Country program as a whole strives to build community, and adopt an atmosphere of encouragement between the runners, coaching staff and rival teams. The coaching staff believes that this is an essential component to racing and competing as a team. ACA’s head Cross Country coach, Jason Ingle, adds, “As a runner myself I love the aspect of pushing yourself to new limits, and as a coach I strive to teach runners how to get better at running and really learn to enjoy the sport. Running offers a lifetime skill that almost everyone can utilize, even if they are running competitively. But more than that, Cross Country gives the coaching staff a perfect opportunity to teach students how to live in a community; how to encourage, to love, and to grow through the power of the gospel. We suffer together, we celebrate together, and we grow together as a family.”

Looking ahead to Wednesday, September 6, the ACA Varsity Cross Country team will host CDS as well as many other schools in the Buncombe County Championships at home. The men will race at 4:30, closely followed by the women at 5:15.

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