This year’s girls cross country team is the largest in Bettendorf High School history with 51 girls out for the season.
Head coach Erin Flynn said, “In the past 15 years we have had as many as 42, but the large number this year is fantastic! I am a bit surprised we have so many girls, but I believe cross country is a lifelong sport. Many high school athletes turn to running once they graduate to stay in shape.”
The increase is due not only to a large number of incoming freshmen but also several upperclassmen deciding to join later in their high school career.
“I joined the team because my friends convinced me to, and they were like, ‘it’s a fun sport to do,’ and a lot of my friends are in it so I was like, ‘yeah, that’d be lit,’” said Minori Peters, a junior who joined cross country this year as her first ever high school sport.
The higher turnout is great for the team’s future and gives a larger pool of talent for the Flynn to work with. However, it also causes problems given that Flynn is the team’s only full time coach.
“It is more difficult to supervise the squad on road runs so I depend on the girls to show integrity when I am not with them. Coach Roling assists two to three times a week, but the other days can be a bit hectic, so I rely on the older girls to really help out when needed,” Flynn said.
The number of girls also puts additional pressure on athletes to compete, especially since three of the seven varsity spots opened up this year with the graduation of former athletes, and the girls in those spots can change from meet to meet.
“It’s definitely competitive for the varsity spots since there are only seven, but I think everyone supports each other, and we all want the other girls to run as well as they can,” said Maggie Dixon, currently the sixth runner of the top seven that compete for varsity.
The team started its season with varsity winning by 14 points in Moline on Thursday, Aug. 24. The season will end at the state meet in Fort Dodge on Oct. 28.