Cross Country hosts long-awaited inaugural home meet on new course

The boys varsity cross country team prepares for their team chant minutes before the start of their race on Sept. 6.

Clara Sloan

The boys’ varsity cross country team prepares for their team chant minutes before the start of their race on Sept. 6.

Building one’s own home is a traditional sign of success which also provides an endearing quality to the home itself in the mind of the builder. Long hours spent preparing miniscule details that go unnoticed in the final product, unforeseen setbacks, and finally, a fulfilling sense of realization characterize this process that might take months or even years to complete.

This process reached its capstone on Thursday, Sept. 6 for the cross country team, which, after many months of work from both parents and athletes on their home course at Lexington Lake Park, won both the girls’ and boys’ titles in the first ever invitational meet at the site.

“It was really special to reap the rewards of what we all worked for,” said varsity senior runner Aydan Vanmeerhaeghe. “Actually seeing what we did over the past few months accumulate into one big meet was really cool, especially seeing all the underclassmen who will be able to continue running there in years to come.”

The course itself has been a work in progress even before the park itself officially opened in summer of 2017, spearheaded by Doug Pickert, parent of girls’ varsity junior runner Erin Pickert.

“It’s incredibly fulfilling to see the dreams actually be realized, and I think everybody who worked on it feels the same way,” Doug Pickert said.

The grass course had taken multiple rounds of rain prior to race day, so the status of the meet was unknown up until the day before the races. Despite the wet conditions slowing race times, head coach Jack Sachse was still overall very happy with his teams.

“I’m happy we all competed hard and finished the race without getting injured. The course was a little muddy today, but I’m really happy we were able to have the meet and just get a solid effort in,” Sachse said. “No times were super fast, but the effort was good, so I’m pleased with that.”

Home field advantage and familiarity with the grounds certainly came into play, as the girls team placed all seven varsity runners in the top 10, while six boys varsity runners finished in the top 10 of their race, dominating team scores.

De Soto running history was also present on the course, as 3200-meter school record holder and DHS Hall of Fame member Derek Tate’s race timing company provided results for the race.

Moving forward, activities director Ryan Johnson hopes that future meets held at the course will increase in scale from the inaugural event, which only included four schools.

“I think this course could be one of the premier courses in the state and host a Regional [championship] someday,” Johnson said. “It’s a really cool course I think people will enjoy it.”