Racing Into the Season

Cross Country Participates in the 23rd Annual Cedar Park Invitational


Anthony Luparello

With the finish line in sight and a 15-second lead, junior Isabel Conde De Frankenberg pushes her way through the final stretch of the Cedar Park Invitational. Conde De Frankenberg would go on to win the varsity girls 5K race for the second year in a row. “It was a good turnout, it was really fun,” Conde De Frankenberg said. “I love our school course, it was good being able to run on there and represent your own course.”

Fear, anger, motivation: these are some of the many feelings dozens of athletes felt as they approached the spray-painted starting line of the Cedar Park XC Invitational.

As a new school year starts, so does a new season for the school’s cross country team, who participated in the CP Invitational 5K on Sept. 12. Located at Cedar Park’s home turf, the CP Invitational has been running annually for 23 years, with hundreds of schools from across the state in attendance, in hopes of outperforming their competition in this community-gathering event.

“It’s such a fun meet,” senior and varsity athlete Ben McDanald said. “I’m so glad that so many community members and students and faculty were able to come and support, and it was a huge fundraiser for the team.” 

Beyond the races, the team has been tighter than ever as well, with fresh faces being introduced to the team, including the new cross country coach, Hunter Russell.

“[Coach Russell] is definitely a good coach‒ he’s really motivational,” junior Isabel Conde De Frankenberg said. “He’s a lot more strict than our old coach, but he’s definitely helped the team by building up the whole team aspect and the community, and just helping us put effort into our running and not just like actual running, but with the team, and being strong.”

In addition to helping motivate the team further, Russell has also aided the team by implementing many new aspects into the training program. 

[Coach Russell] has done a lot for the team. He’s introduced more efficient strength training for injury prevention and a lot more high-volume workouts to help increase our speed and stamina.

— Ben McDanald

“[Coach Russell] has done a lot for the team,” McDanald said. “He’s introduced more efficient strength training for injury prevention, and a lot more high-volume workouts to help increase our speed and stamina.”

With a strong team spirit clearly present throughout the athletes, according to Conde De Frankenberg, another important characteristic for the racers is setting up goals for themselves to follow and reach during the run of the season.  

“I want to go to State, I want to do good at State,” Conde De Frankenberg said. “I also want to try and make it to Nationals, which I haven’t done before because it was canceled last year because of COVID. I just want to keep dropping time and seeing where I go.”

On top of getting the fastest times possible to qualify for the most competitive meets, another factor about setting goals for the team is the ways athletes can utilize them to help bounce back even after serious injuries, such as McDanald, who suffered from a critical knee injury during the summer. 

“I spent five weeks not running, and instead [found] other ways to cross train and keep my fitness up,” McDanald said. “I was finally able to run without pain in my knee, so now I am back doing workouts with the team and racing. Not running for so long has really set me back, so I’m working hard to make up ground and get back to where I was. It’s my senior year, my final season, and I’m ready to get back into it.”