Racing to the Finish Line

Last week Dogwood runners kicked off the cross country season with the annual GMSD Elementary Mile race. Over 130 runners participated, and Dogwood girls and boys both placed second in the meet.

“It was so fun to see many smiling faces during a hot race,” coach Stacey Schwarzmann said. “The girls’ team was the only team to have seven in the top 20, and it was fun to see a lot of pack running as a sea of blue uniforms crossed the line.”

The students agreed that it was an exciting night. “I loved running and all the people cheering me on,” third grader Nolan Pratt said. “It really encouraged me.”

The team has been practicing three days a week since July to get ready for the season. Practices have been hot and hard, but they have not discouraged the runners.

“I really want to get under a seven minute mile this year,” fourth grader Ben Pressler said. 

Coaches have inspired the students to set goals, sometimes with the help of popsicles as an after practice treat. That fun time with friends after practice is all part of the experience. Cross country is about beating personal records, encouraging teammates, and being a part of a team. 

“I got 25th place, and with all the elementary schools that were there, that’s something!” third grader Adelyn Winer said. “It was great being together with a lot of people who were going the same pace.”

Second grade teacher and coach Madison Lessley has been an integral part of getting organized for the season too. Not only has she been running with the students at practice, she also organized all of the student registration and uniform ordering through the school. Lessley sees the payoff for her time and effort. “I am so proud of the progress our team has made already. Many kids on the team trained throughout the summer. Cross country is a tough sport, and their dedication to personal growth is awesome. I can’t wait to watch our strong teams compete this season. Go dolphins!”

As the season starts, the team’s runners have high hopes. They want to earn their way to the state meet in Knoxville at the end of October. But they are not concerned just with winning. 

“I get to be with friends and run with them,” Pratt said. “It’s super fun.”

The team is excited to start their regular season through Memphis Youth Athletics September 6 at Shelby Farms at 5:00.