The once hopeful season for the Corona del Sol girls cross-country team ended in heartbreak, on several levels.
Three days before the city meet, a fellow student athlete committed suicide. It affected everyone, especially junior Riley Wright.
“It’s affected me a lot mentally,” Wright said. “I just kinda fell out of the mindset for cross country. And I was more focused on doing things for him.”
Wright is the second fastest runner on the team, behind senior Renee Payne, who was the only team member to qualify for state. Running impressive times all season, Wright expected more from herself.
“I was disappointed. I expected I’d get a PR (personal record) this year and this is the first I haven’t actually,” said Wright.
The team finished eighth, one spot short of the top seven teams that qualify for state.
“I think we’re a little disappointed since we didn’t all make state as a whole team,” said sophomore Mackenzie Burgess. “So we were really trying hard to get it, but it’s hard when a lot of our girls from last year are gone.”
Burgess was disappointed in the team’s results, but happy with her personal improvement this season.
“I think my season went really well,” Burgess said. “I had a lot of improvement from last year. And I’m still excited to improve for the next two years.”
The team may not have lived up to expectation, but is hoping to change that come next August.
“There was a lot of trial and errors this season, and we haven’t exactly found what we’re gonna do to find a solid improvement,” said Burgess. “I feel like if all of us can improve over track season, then that can get us a little faster for next year.”
Wright hopes to find her motivation for next season from the passing of her friend.
“When I’m competing I’ll remember how hard he worked because he was crazy driven, and what we’re doing now is for him as well as for us,” said Wright. “We all just want to perform better for him.”