Casady Cross Country’s victory is a sight to behold, especially after the hard work and dedication each member of the team put in to reach this point. A few of the participants that worked hard during the season at the conference include Sam Rhoades (‘25), Ayden Kerr (‘23), and Larry Mathis (‘23). Through months of running, running, and more running, the team claimed a decisive SPC victory for Casady’s last year at the conference. A few of the numerous champions at SPC include Sam Rhoades, Ayden Kerr, and Larry Mathis.
Months before the event commenced, the entire team had been training for hours over the summer, running hundreds of miles and burning their legs doing hill repeats. Despite all this tough training, the team endured and became faster and faster each day. Two weeks before the conference, the team began to prepare by doing a special form of training known as tapering. “[Tapering is] where you cut down on the volume of work that you do […] it’s more focused on quality, so you cut down to where you have more energy and a less chance of getting injured before a meet,” said Rhoades.
Sam described his experience at the conference: “I had a leg cramp, so I was limping for the second half of the race. I finished the race though, so that felt good […] I felt pretty good about winning.” Sam’s and the team’s victory at SPC, along with the numerous medals they received, demonstrated their absolute dedication and perseverance to the sport. In total, six Cyclones received All-SPC Honors, with Larry Mathis (‘23) running the fastest time for the 5 kilometer run between both 4A and 3A divisions with a 15:57.30. Ayden Kerr (‘25) rounded up the race in a historic Casady 1-2 finish with a 16.50.5, an outstanding PR for the Cyclone.
After the conference, the team celebrated their victory and showed off the rewards they earned from months of running. However, the team has one more event they have set their eyes on. Enthusiastically, Sam described the “NXR/ Nike Cross Regional… every year, Nike has Cross Country races… it’s for the best of the best… this is the first year we’ve done it.” NXR will be the final competition that Casady’s 2022 cross-country team faces. For next year, the 2023 cross-country team will be facing a new challenge in place of SPC. “We have to win OSSAA… our division has an average 5k time of 17 [minutes].”
Casady’s victory in the 2022 SPC Championship is not only special as Casady’s final victory, but it is also notable for another reason. One of the coaches, “Coach Sterling[,] is retiring this year, so it felt really good to get us an SPC win for the last SPC we’ll ever have with her,” said Rhoades. When looking at Casady’s score of 33, it is also apparent that Casady’s final SPC was not only a special one, but also one of the best we’ve ever had.