On November 13, the Veritas boys cross country team won its first Division IV State Championship.
The pandemic caused Coach Jared Holmberg to worry whether the team would have the opportunity to run cross country, but they never gave up the dream of competing or winning the championship.
“I told the guys to keep working all summer in case we were allowed to go forward with the season,” Holmberg said. “We’d been chasing after a state title for a while, and I wanted them to be able to seize it if the chance came their way.”
The team trained diligently, emphasizing running a lot of mileage at different speeds as cross country requires much endurance to compete. Strength-based workouts are also part of their regimen.
“We didn’t win state last year,” Holmberg said, “and to not win this year would’ve been soul-crushing for the seniors. With a lot of hard work, commitment and reliance on each other during this weird season, we won.”
The cross country team is comprised of 11 athletes who have not only excelled on the field but also in the classroom. The athletes are honor students carrying a GPA of 4.0 or more.
"More than any of the workouts, the conditioning or the coaching, their team culture was the foundation of all their success."
“This year, we were focused on our goals, and we were determined to win,” said senior Nick Logan, who has run cross country all four years of high school. “We have a perfect team vibe among us.”
Logan describes the practices as “high volume and high mileage,” with the team practicing five days a week and unofficially on weekends. While he hasn’t decided yet on what college he’ll attend in the fall or if he’ll run cross country, he knows he wants to be a mechanical engineer.
Senior Ian Rathsburg, who also runs long-distance track in the spring, describes winning state as “a huge relief” because they’d worked so hard for this for four years. He says cross country has created beneficial habits that will carry him far in life and beyond school and academics.
“Cross country is an insanely strenuous sport,” Rathsburg said, “and what makes our team so special is the camaraderie of running with the guys. We have great team chemistry; we believed in each other and stayed true to our belief in one another. Our team is super strong.”
While Rathsburg hasn’t decided on his school yet, he plans to run cross country and join the Naval Reserves Officer Training Program.
“More than any of the workouts, the conditioning or the coaching, their team culture was the foundation of all their success,” Holmberg said, “These guys have known each other for years, and they’re close friends. They know how to work hard together and stick together through hard times, identifying together as a team.”