CP’s Cross Country races into a new season


Collyn Burke

The boy’s varsity runners take off during the Cedar Park Invitational. “I prefer bigger meets because that’s where the best runners compete at,” junior Tyler Grendel said. “When I race against better runners it shows me how much I have improved and forces me to push myself.”

Collyn Burke, Reporter

The sun has yet to rise, and there is still dampness to the fresh morning air. A gaggle of students dash past, sweating, gulping in deep breaths of air, running feverishly. This is Cedar Park High School’s Cross Country team. Like all other CP sports teams, Cross Country is determined to dominate the 2015-16 season.
From hosting one of the biggest meets in the state, to the boys earning their 13th district title, Cross Country has hit the floor running…literally. Led by Coach Bardgett“Jett” this year’s Cross Country team is on their way to carving out their mark in CP history. So what has them going?
“I tell my kids that they have a choice every day between success or failure,” Bardgett said. “Whatever they choose will determine how their season will go. There are no shortcuts to success.”
Unlike other sports at CP, Cross Country works on more of an individual basis, while they a have team they do run by themselves and often do not see other teammates or their coach until the end of the race.
“As a coach, the worst part about a cross country meet is whenever your runners run beyond your eyesight, which happens quite often,” Bardgett said. “I would say, at best, I only see about 25 percent of a race. During that time the not-knowing can be nerve-racking. But you have to rely on the training to take over.”
During the meets, which are typically 5ks, roughly 3 miles, the runners have to be the ones to push themselves. Junior Sarah Pia, who has been running for the past 5 years, knows this well.
“Running is like a getaway for me,” Pia said. “My parents always tell me to run my heart out even if I can barely stand the pain anymore.”
Pia has placed high in meets run by the varsity girls team this year, taking 8th out of 232 runners. Along beside junior Tyler Grendel who has also been placing high, taking 5th place at the same meet, which was considered to be one of the biggest in Texas.
“During a race I usually tell myself that, ‘This is where your hard work will pay off, don’t let them get away because everyone is hurting just as much as you are.’,” Grendel said. “During a race all you feel is pain the entire way, so it’s up to you to tell yourself that you can keep up and to motivate yourself.”
The bond Cross Country runners have is similar to any other sports team, when one member goes down, the others not running that event rush to help, to motivate.
“With the varsity team I mostly just encourage them,” Grendel said. “I let everyone know that we have prepared for these types of races and that we are ready.”
Along with the awards given out by the meets, the team also has a set of awards that are given to the team, some include “The First Mile Courage Award” and “The More Fire Award” the latter of the two is so named because it’s what Bardgett says to the runners before a meet. The titles are typically given to two runners that Bardgett feels earned them during the meet.
“Coach Bardgett always tells me that whoever has “more fire” will win the race,” Grendel said “Meaning that whoever is more determined to win and believes they can win, will win.”
Though its Bardgett’s first year coaching at CP, it seems he has already developed a strong relationship with his athletes.
“In cross country you can’t call a timeout when things aren’t going well during a race and there is no halftime to regroup,” Bardgett said. “It’s up to the runners to figure their way out of bad situations during a race. We just try to get them to a point where they can be successful all on their own.”
Cedar Park’s cross country team is sure to succeed in making their mark on Cedar Park.
“I just hope they know how much I care about their lives and how badly I want to see them succeed,” Bardgett said. “The life lessons they learn by being in my program will serve them well when they graduate. I always try to remember that creating successful people is way more important than creating successful runners. In the end I know they will appreciate that, even if it’s not always apparent during workouts.”