DAYTON — Are you in?
Those three words make up this year’s theme for the Tongue River High School cross country team. The phrase focuses on the mental aspects of running and full commitment to supporting the team and oneself.
“We can be as physically fit and still not do our best because our mind isn’t in it,” senior girls team captain Macey McArthur said.
McArthur came up with the phrase, which also doubles as a phonetic pun.
The team is waiting on shirts that spell out “R.U.N.,” a dual meaning for the long-distance sport.
McArthur started running as a sophomore when she was looking for a new activity. She has thoroughly enjoyed it so far and found success as well, taking 13th place at the state meet last year
“The sport is crazy and it’s super hard, but I love it,” McArthur said. “I’ve come back every year since, not just for the running but for the team.”
She said the team wants to improve and work together under head coach Tim Maze, who is in his fifth season leading the way.
“Our team is more like a family,” McArthur said. “Having this other family, these people I can depend on, growing closer to them — that’s a big thing for me. I love the running, but for me that’s the biggest part.”
Both the Eagles and Lady Eagles placed sixth at the state meet last year. The girls team won’t have enough runners this season to qualify for a team score, but the boys team will and returns nearly all of its runners from last year.
Sophomore Jason Barron ran at state last year, his first season of competitive running. Barron tried cross country last season with the encouragement of a friend and said he is hooked.
Barron was homeschooled until high school and said the cross country team helped ease the transition into high school. Like McArthur, Barron said the best part of the sport is being part of a close knit group.
He also enjoys the discipline required from the sport. Barron trained a lot over the summer and hopes to run under 19 minutes this year. To achieve that mark, Barron wants to start races fast, hold his place and finish strong. When the race is nearing its conclusion and his lungs are gasping for air and legs feel like they’re on fire, Barron keeps reminding himself how close the finish line is.
“You feel like you’re going to fall apart, but you know it’s right there,” Barron said. “You just need to find what’s inside you to pull that last little bit out.”
Instead of specific time or place goals, McArthur’s main focus is to push herself and not walk at any point during a race or practice. She set the goal as a sophomore and has kept it up so far throughout all practices and races.
“That is the biggest goal I have ever had,” McArthur said.
Along with the rest of the team, Barron and McArthur appear ready to go all in.