Cross-country favorite Riley Wright doesn’t just run the course. She helps run the team.
The Corona del Sol High School junior knew she wanted to lead the team far before she was even on it.
At only 12 years old, Wright started training with a few different high schools to get a feel for what a real cross-country team was like.
“I got to run with a lot of older girls which was great and that’s when I thought I want to be a part of a team, and I want to be able to lead it when I’m older,” Wright said.
Wright was chosen as a varsity co-captain along with senior Renee Payne for the 2016 season. She consistently finishes with impressive times.
“Before I even chose captains, she showed great leadership,” said coach Ari Rodriguez. “Over the summer she helped out a lot of the new girls coming in and she’s been helping out since the beginning of the season. So it wasn’t a hard choice.”
Wright embraces her role, but stays humble.
“I didn’t really know how I felt about having girls vote me in, or being selected because I don’t want them to see me as the boss, but as a part of the team,” Wright said.
Even as a leader, Wright faces her own struggles as a runner.
“I ending up being injured a lot after every season, and I kind of was getting down on myself,” Wright said.
Last season, Wright had a strain in her leg and used a therapy machine for about two weeks that sent electric shocks throughout her leg to heal it.
Wright is healthy now, and has learned to pay more attention to injuries. She works with a personal trainer to focus on strength and other important muscles.
“This last track season was where my running career took a big change,” said Wright. “I was training with a different coach and I was focusing a lot more on speed. I just felt so much stronger.”
Wright finished her track season without injury and achieved a new personal record by five seconds at the state championship, which rarely happens.
“That’s when I realized this is something I can be good at,” Wright said. “It’s not just something that is only good for the people that have the genes for it.”
Wright is thriving this season, and not just on the team.
As a member of the National Honor Society and the publicity manager of Student Council, Wright works hard at everything she’s involved in.
School is a priority for Wright. So are her other commitments.
“You can be a good runner, but if you don’t have good grades you’re not going to make it in college,” Wright said.
Wright knows she wants to continue running in college, and she has determination to make it happen.
“She has a great work ethic,” said Rodriguez. “Nobody else stays here longer or works harder.”