By Jake Kwon ’26 and Jason Lee ‘26
Last month, on September 21st, the Bells attended the first of three West Catholic Athletic League (WCAL) races and there was a lot to feel good about. The Junior Varsity and Sophomore teams both secured first, with the JV team scoring 38 points ahead of the second-place team and the Sophomores having seven of their runners finishing in the top-ten. The Freshmen and Varsity teams also saw success in the race, with both teams coming in second place in their respective leagues.
This year’s first WCAL race took place in Golden Gate Park, in San Francisco, with a grand total of nine schools competing. Most runners enjoyed the race, one being Andres Ryan (Freshman) who noted that he appreciated the course, which included running around the polo fields and then off the track for a portion of the race. He also said, “It wasn’t as bad as it could’ve been” as it provided him with “more experience” that prepared him for the following RAM invite. This week, we interviewed Andres again but were also able to interview some new faces including the head coach of the cross-country program, Mr. McCrystle, as well as varsity runner, Owen Botkin, to get their thoughts on the WCAL race.
Mr. McCrystle – Cross Country Head Coach
Q. Overall, how well do you think the team performed in the WCAL 1?
A. I think that the team performed very well, having won first place in two races and second place in the other two. However, I think that the team could have run tougher, especially towards the end of the race, which was something that we had in the Lowell Invite, which was most likely the best race of the year so far, that we did not have in the WCAL 1.
Q. What do you believe are good qualities that every cross-country runner should have when competing during a race?
A. To be a good cross-country runner, it requires a lot of work and commitment, but more importantly the willingness to consistently work at something that is not easy. The second point is selflessness. If someone runs cross country, and only thinks about themselves, they will not do well. The qualities that everyone should have been a sense of selflessness, dedication on the team, and not just themselves, and that helps them to be great. They need to be tough, consistent, and put the work in every day.
Q. What is Bellarmine’s approach to the sport that allows us to be successful in competitions?
A. Bellarmine’s approach is to focus on the team. Running together as a pack, having the whole team practicing, mixing younger runners with upperclassmen all help newer runners learn more about the sport. The sense of running together when we race, and the team aspect, not just an individual’s need.
Owen Botkin 23’ – Varsity Runner
Q. How did you feel while competing during the race?
A. I felt good towards the beginning of the race, but in the last quarter of the race, it got tough especially with the hills, and unfortunately many runners passed us during the last stretch.
Q. What did you think were the most difficult parts of this run in particular?
A. The hills towards the end of the race that you run are areas that you need to look out for. The ones that are steeper and go more uphill are areas that are more challenging to accelerate across.
Q. What advice would you give to future runners that may compete in this course?
A. I would say that you should run your hardest on the flat areas of terrain more than anywhere else. It is better to run tougher in areas where you are able to run fast than to do so in places such as hills.
Andres Ryan 26’ – Frosh Runner
Q. How did you feel during the race?
A. As it was a three mile race, during nearly all of which we were maintaining a sub-eight pace, and at times faster, it was not physically pleasant, however it did feel psychologically great afterward.
Q. How did you personally feel like you did in the race?
A. I don’t feel as if I ran my best race; had we pushed harder at around the two mile mark, when other schools’ runners were beginning to get tired, my running group and I could have capitalized on it and pulled ahead.
Q. As a frosh runner, what would you have liked to know before the race?
A. I knew we would be running off the polo field trail for about a one-third of a mile, though I thought it was exclusively at the beginning, not the end as well; so, in that respect, I could’ve been more familiar with the course. Although the hills were nowhere near as bad as Ram, they weren’t exactly a welcome surprise.
That is all you need to know about the WCAL 1 Race! With many promising talents and consistently strong runners, Bellarmine Cross Country has a bright future ahead. This is only the beginning, so be on the lookout for new articles on other cross-country races and updates on the season!