Stained Spikes

A bit of color and a ton of rocks to build new bonds for the Cross-Country team

Stained Spikes

45. That’s the number of runners who missed the opportunity to attend the Bob Firman Invite at Idaho due to the irregular COVID-19 vaccination rates in the state. 

As the Juan Diego Cross-Country team reached its peak in its training, it had to look for new hills to trample on to replace the team bonding experiences created on a 4-hour bus drive, hotel stay and an out-of-state race. 

So, looking back to the majestic mountains that tower over the valley of Draper, the Cross-Country team huddled up at the morning Color Run to support the Drill Team and finished the day with perilous hikes and melting smores by the campfire. 

While the adventures missed at the Bob Firman event were merely another aftereffect of the spread of COVID-19, the memories that were created at the camping trip supplied the bonding time needed to sweat as one in the upcoming Regional races.

The Cross-Country team readying themselves for the hike up Big Cottonwood Canyon. Courtesy of Nicole Merhi.

Even for a Saturday, there’s nothing that can beat a 5-mile hike along the Big Cottonwood Canyon of our beautiful mountains, where “some segments were easy, but then there were a couple of segments that felt like continuous lunges,” commented Sophomore Cross-Country runner Aidan Mulligan.

Mulligan added that “the bonds were improved… we all felt a sense of comradery” during the Drill team’s Color Run to collect charity funds. While most families walked, the chanting and stomping of the Cross-Country team on the home field was definitely an aspect of the day that positively “stained” one’s mindset for the camping experience.

“We swept the podium, from what I remember, because we were just running against kids though, so I didn’t feel too proud, but it was fun,” finishes Mullligan.

At the beginning of the season, Freshman Cross-Country runner Jackson Stolz commented that “I was most looking forward to being part of the team and improving on my running skills.” 

The Freshman boys team. (L to R: Jackson Stolz, Roberto Villeta, Shepherd Foy, Matthew Tita). Courtesy of Nicole Merhi.

When the excitement built up for the Bob Firman Race, Stolz added that he was looking forward to “having a good time with team bonding experiences”, but he was “disappointed when I found out that it had been canceled though.”

Nevertheless, for his first time on the team, Stolz admitted that “I thought it was pretty fun: I enjoyed the hike, I liked the food; I thought the ghosts in the graveyard was fun. And I think it served its function as a team-bonding experience.”

I thought it was pretty fun: I enjoyed the hike, I liked the food; I thought the ghosts in the graveyard was fun. And I think it served its function as a team-bonding experience.”

— Jackson Stolz

In regards to the depression that quickly preceded the news of the cancellation of the event, Junior Cross-Country runner Nicole Merhi proclaimed that “despite missing Bob Firman, I think that we made the best of it and, overall, it was just really fun getting to be in nature.” 

Scorching some marshmallows by the campfire. Courtesy of Nicole Merhi.

Merhi added that “I think that it brought us a lot closer together. I feel like I was interacting with people that I never really interacted with before, and I think overall our team-bonding aspect is pretty good.”

So, even when COVID inflicted the Cross-Country team’s ability to have fun in between the races, Merhi concluded that “I’m glad that it ended up being the camping trip because you still got to bond and to certain things” around the mountains that would have been unavailable at Idaho.

I think that it brought us a lot closer together. I feel like I was interacting with people that I never really interacted with before, and I think overall our team-bonding aspect is pretty good.”

— Nicole Merhi

With the clusters of powdered chalk that rained down on the Cross-Country team in the early-morning Color Run to the “ghosts in the graveyard” game in the dead of night (which was definitely not accident-free), the friendships and spirit of the team continued to be enriched in this alternative event that certainly placed the “fun” in being part of a team.

Certainly, this fun has boosted the team to stretch all the way to a Regional Championship for the JV and Varsity Boys team and the JV and Varsity Girls team in the following two weeks.