Team waits for starting gun

"POULSBO - Cross-country is unlike any other sport, said coach Katie Savage. Savage should know. She also coaches the North Kitsap High School track team, and she said that the cross-country season, which begins Sept. 7, is different. It's not the distance that makes it difficult, she said of the sport, which requires the athletes to run between 2.8 and 3.1 miles. It's that it's off-road. So, Savage said, the runners will often find themselves winding through trails, crunching on gravel, and evading obstacles. The strategies are very different (than track), she said. There's a lot more lateral movement, so your ankles have to be flexible. "

“POULSBO – Cross-country is unlike any other sport, said coach Katie Savage. Savage should know. She also coaches the North Kitsap High School track team, and she said that the cross-country season, which begins Sept. 7, is different. It’s not the distance that makes it difficult, she said of the sport, which requires the athletes to run between 2.8 and 3.1 miles. It’s that it’s off-road. So, Savage said, the runners will often find themselves winding through trails, crunching on gravel, and evading obstacles. The strategies are very different (than track), she said. There’s a lot more lateral movement, so your ankles have to be flexible. Conditioning was on Savage’s mind before this summer, when she encouraged her cross-country runners to be in great shape when they came into the season. So far Savage has found that they have obliged. Many of the top runners are in great condition coming in, she said. That’s always nice. I always tell them, ‘You’re going to have a better season if you come in halfway decent shape.’ This year’s team, Savage said, will have more experience than last year’s. Last year’s team was very green. This year we have a little more seasoning, she said. One of those seasoned runners is Russ Tamm, who is sprinting into his second year of cross-country. It’s a lot harder than anything else you do, he said of cross country. You think you’re in shape, you work hard to train, then you get here and it’s so hard. Tamm, a senior this year, missed making districts by one place. He was 21st, and districts accepted 20. I think this year I’ll be a lot stronger. Last year was a new experience. I hadn’t done competitive running before, he said. Cross-country is different than sprinting, Tamm said, trying to describe it: You get in a pack sometimes, and you get in a pace, he said. It’s not like you’re pushing hard – well, you are, but it’s in a pace. It feels good to be pushing hard. Tamm added, The greatest part for me is when I finish. Then I feel good. On the other end of the experience scale is ninth-grader Kristin Morrison, who has not only plunged into her first year of cross-country, but had her first practice Monday afternoon. It’s tough, because you have to go such long distances at such a steady pace. Morrison has also run track, but decided to do cross-country too. I like to run, she said. “

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