Going the Extra MIle

Grace May, OP-ED Editor

The Hoover boys’ cross country team has had continuous success this year, especially compared to that of years past. Various accomplishments were made and a new school record was even set. It’s an understatement to say that this team had a good season.
Boys’ cross country coach Mr. Nick Stroemple witnessed first-hand what this team had accomplished.
“We were Stark County champions,” he said. “That’s when every school in Stark County comes to one race, all divisions and we got first place over all the teams in there.”
However, the boys didn’t stop at that, they knew there was more they were capable of.
“We were district runners-up and qualified for regionals as a team,” he said. “And then finally we placed fifth and we needed to be in the top eight at the regional meet to advance to the state championships.”
Everyone knew the boys were capable of reaching their goals, but for them to actually execute what they had set out to do is another feat.
“I knew that we had the potential,” Stroemple said, “but what’s important is that we had to actually go out and execute.”
This year was different compared to years past for these boys, as a team hasn’t qualified for state since 2008. Senior Aaron Pike explained what was different this year for the team.
“Guys show up everyday ready to work and get better,” he said. “That wasn’t always the case before.”
As much as the guys got along on the team, there was a lot of healthy competition within the team that helped lead to their overall success.
“I also think this team benefited from an unusually competitive back half of varsity and front half of JV,” Pike said. “In reality, we probably had eight guys battling for the last two varsity spots. I think the competition between all those guys right in the middle made each of them better and that made us really competitive.”
Along with the success of the team this year, a new school record was set by junior Blaze Fichter. This was a goal of his all along, but for it to finally happen is another kind of feeling. He was excited to have all his teammates there to support him.
“My favorite moment this season was the group hug between John Hollon, Noah Johnson and me after I had broken the school record at the Federal League Invitational,” he said.
This record was previously set in 2001, so it took 19 years for someone to finally break it. Breaking a record takes more than just training in running though.
“One of the things he does is that he takes it upon himself to do things outside of practice that I don’t require a lot of the other runners to do,” Stroemple said. “He lifts on his own, he’s pretty conscious about what he eats and he talks about getting enough sleep really often.”
These are all really important for any person, but especially for that of an elite athlete.
“Obviously getting enough training plays a big part of your success,” he said. “But once you reach a certain level, kind of where Blaze is at, it’s those little things outside of the running…that really takes him to the next level.”
Another runner with a huge accomplishment on the team was senior Jacob Cureton. He was named a co-school winner of the Heisman High School Scholarship and is very proud and excited about this feat.
“When I was first applying for the Heisman, I didn’t think I had a chance at being a winner,” Cureton said, “but when my parents showed me that I actually won, I was pretty excited about winning the scholarship.”
Even with COVID this year, the team was able to accomplish all that they did, proving how solid this team is as a whole.
“I believe it actually played advantage because it allowed us to run every race as if it was our last,” Fichter said. “It made us much more thankful to even have a season as track was canceled for us last year.”
Usually the team has a lot of bonding opportunities throughout the season too. However, this was much harder this year because of the virus as well.
“Usually every Thursday night during the season the boys and girls teams have a pasta party,” Pike said. “We all get together at somebody’s house or at a park and hang out and spend time as a team.”
The normal ways of bonding were not possible this year though.
“That left it up to the seniors to replicate some of those bonding experiences inside the practice environment,” Pike said. “I felt like we did a good job of that and ended up with a really close knit team. I think that bond between the team is what made this year so much fun and propelled us to such a successful season.”
These boys  have such a big drive to compete and improve, and together, they were able to accomplish their goal. They each have a unique mindset that helps the team to keep pushing forward.
“No matter how good you are,” Fichter said. “There is always ways you can improve upon yourself.” n