The three seniors on the MVNU cross country team have put countless miles under their feet the past four years and helped push the sport to a new level.
Josh Richardson, Ellis Gallion and Ben Nielson have been great examples and selfless leaders for the program, coach Chip Wilson said.
“They have paved the way for their younger teammates, and they have set the standard high,” Wilson said.
Freshman Matt McKenzie said the seniors were inspiring teammates who pushed him to get better.
“What those three meant to the team is endless,” he said. “They set the tone. The three of them are the best teammates an incoming freshmen could have asked for because of their encouragement and dedication to the team.”
Sophomore Emily Williams agreed and said the three seniors “have been a huge part in making our team what it is today.”
“They constantly remind us of what being on a team is all about,” Williams said. “It’s hard to imagine what next year will be like without them.”
For their part, the seniors said they are going to miss the competition but will always feel a part of the program.
“Once a member of the cross country family, always a member,” Richardson said.
That family relationship is the most memorable part of cross country, Gallion said.
“It is like meeting crazy, awesome and dedicated people every year and working your tail off with them and, as a result, growing together and becoming like family,” he said.
Four years of cross country has brought a wide range of situations and emotions, Nielson said.
“I will miss the adventures, the races, the encouragement, the discouragement, the trials and the tribulations,” he said.
Richardson, who set a new personal best and MVNU record last month in the Jenna Strong Fall Classic, has been named Crossroads League Runner of the Week twice this season. Richardson said it’s going to be hard to leave his racing days behind.
“I am going to deeply miss competing,” he said. “Running is a unique sport where you are directly in control of how good you want to be. I’ve made it my goal to do things better than anyone in our conference, and to be able to pursue such a level of excellence day in and day out with my teammates has been a tremendous experience.”
But even as the college races come to an end, the three seniors said the memories and relationships will continue. Cross country will somehow always be a part of their lives.