Cross Country: All it Takes is All You’ve Got


Donated by Andres Alvarez

Lindsey Smith, Staff Writer

   When asked to define running, the majority of people will respond with a strange look on their face and a comment that resembles, “running? I don’t run,” or, “it’s something I try to avoid.” However, despite the lack of keeness from some walking enthusiasts, there are a group of people that contradict the belief that running is – simply put – not fun. Fortunately, PPCHS is lucky enough to have such types of people to create a versatile environment; the cross country team. The elaborate running brands, the compression socks, shin splints, tendonitis, yes, the cross country team has experienced it all. Yet, through it all they run over roots, dodge divots in the ground, get doused in mud, all in the scorching heat. Contrary to popular belief, the real athletes are the ones on the trails. 

   8:30 a.m Saturday practices, intense workouts, and running multiple miles each day, all strategically orchestrated by Coach Angeles de Bastos, who has allowed the team to flourish. To be able to run multiple miles takes endurance, muscle strength, and a strong mindset. They pour their physical strength into making it up hills and they exercise their lung capacity through calmly breathing in and out. They exert their strong mentality and pure grit by forcing themselves to make it through the last stretch of land right before the finish line. There is no comparison to the hard work and determination they put in.

   Coach Angeles de Bastos has been the constant source of motivation for the team. As a runner herself, she understands the ins and outs of the sport and has given a considerable amount of time and knowledge to the team. She stated in a heartwarming message, “[w]hen I got a phone call from Coach Maycock about becoming the head cross country coach for boys and girls, my heart was full of emotions. I was super excited to do something that brings me joy and I knew it was time to give back to the new generation of young runners what I have learned and experienced as a former athlete. After a long talk with my husband and trying to coordinate with work and family, the love for the sport and the youth motivated me a lot, we decided I would take the opportunity…” 

   Junior Macarena Morales is a first time cross country runner that has excelled throughout the season. She stated, “[w]hat interested me about running is the feeling of it. It’s different from any other sport I’ve experienced, the only thing that keeps you moving is yourself. It’s taught me how strong mentally one is in a lot of other aspects of life too. Plus, it’s really fun and I love the people around me, all of whom I have become close with!” A similar enthusiasm was shared amongst other members of the team. Freshman Annabelle Acevedo expressed, “[w]hen I first started, I was the only girl on the team and it was really hard to get motivated because they were all so much better than me. But the coach never let me think that way and she always pushed me to my limit. Now that we have a much larger team, and more girls, there is so much motivation and support. They truly push me to strive for excellence.”

   Captains, senior Armando Rodriguez and senior Daniel Vladerrma, led the team throughout the season. Armando Rodriguez shared his thoughts on running, saying, “I was interested in running because I had a heart condition that was getting worse due to lack of exercise, and running doesn’t require a gym or anything else, you can just get up and do it. I had joined the cross country team because I was previously in the distance track team, so Maycock told me to join since it would help me for the upcoming track season and it is similar to running that I had done before.” Daniel Vladerrma stated, “I’ve always relied on running since middle school. Running was my treatment for stress. The fact that it didn’t require any expensive equipment made it very valuable to me. All it took was some shoes and I was running. When I joined cross country, I knew it was the sport for me because it was not about how fast you run, but how long you last.” Both Daniel and Armando don’t only run for the team, they also run for themselves. 

   The decisions behind joining the cross country team vary. Alejandro de Bastos stated his reasoning by saying, “I’ve always been running so when I found out there was a cross country team, I decided to join so it could help me train for track.” Yet, regardless of the reasoning, there is one mutual understanding: motivation. 

   Additionally, Senior Jaden Calveiro said, “I feel as though my coach and team encourages me to do better everyday. Coach Angeles has helped me find a love for running again after getting bored of it. I also have amazing people who make me want to be just as good as them!” Similarly, junior Gabriella Kinsey exclaims, “I love running! Especially with my team, and I feel they push me to keep going. Having a team/coach with a positive attitude motivates me to improve my time and overall confidence. We all cheer for each other during meets which pushes us to keep going and PR!” PR, or personal record, is an achievement that all runners strive for. Such an accomplishment is a victorious moment for any runner.

   All 19 members of the cross country team, Annabelle Acevedo, Diana Angel, Jailyn Joseph, Gabriella Kinsey, Samantha Miragliotta, Macarena Morales, Betty Phipps, Lindsey Smith, Jaden Calveiro, Steven Fitz-Henley, Andres Gavira, Andres Jimenez, Armando Rodriguez, Alan Schwartz, Ryan Schwartz, Diego Torres, Daniel Valderrama, Branden Vasquez, and Alejandro de Bastos, showed the school true determination and dedication. As Coach Angeles de Bastos said, “now, after the season, looking back, I don’t regret a single minute about taking the position.” The end result never would have been achieved without the support from the team. “Without them, I never would have gotten to where I am now, mentally and physically,” said freshmen Annabelle Acevedo.