Cross country teams improve, bond at annual Spring Mill camp

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Senior Nick Wilson and freshman Ty Garrett near the top of the hill during the second workout at the cross country team's Spring Mill camp.

Graham Kanwit, Website Editor

Braving hills half a mile long. Fighting through mud, blood and sweat. Bathing in ice-cold cave water. 

These were just a few of the experiences the cross country teams had from July 17-19 on their annual camping trip to Spring Mill State Park. In the span of 48 hours, the athletes completed four workouts: a park loop run, a hill workout, a trail run and a relay race. 

“The best workout was the trail run because it was a change of scenery and a different type of run,” sophomore Hudson Gilstorf said.

By doing several different types of runs, Spring Mill provided runners with a preview of the upcoming cross country season.

“Camp helped me as a runner because I learned how hard I could really push myself because all of the runs were pretty challenging,” senior Allie Conkin said. “It gave me some good perspective for the season knowing that if I could make it through camp workouts, I could make it through any tough practice during season.” 

However, the trip wasn’t just about running. The runners also had the opportunity to swim and play volleyball, as well as setting both individual and team goals.

“Obviously [our goal is] to win state, but it is also for everyone to be committed and really focus in at every practice and really be getting better every day,” freshman Logan Combs said. “My individual goals are to get below an 18:40 5k as well as set myself up for being varsity next season.”

Spring Mill not only provided an opportunity for runners to make goals, but it also allowed seniors an opportunity to develop team bonds going into their final season.

“I think what I’ll miss most about camp is all of the group activities we did between runs because it brought me closer to a lot of teammates I didn’t really know before,” Conkin said. “Everyone at camp was also so supportive with the workouts, which made it easier to work hard.” 

In addition to playing volleyball, swimming and setting goals, both teams also participated in group activities including card games, s’mores and individual “confessions” around a campfire. 

“[Spring Mill] brought the people who went 10 times closer,” freshman Ty Garrett said. “It helps people to communicate and be a part of a team better if they know the people around them well.”

Across the three days of camping, runners experienced the highs and lows of workouts and many opportunities to become a more supportive team going into the season.

“Camp allowed us an opportunity to connect and get closer as teammates, which I think will only make us stronger as a team,” Gilstorf said.