Going For Gold


Running is easy– at first. Cool wind whips past your face and your lungs fill with fresh air. Slowly but surely, it gets worse. The cool breeze gradually morphs into a frigid, powerful, wind, which washes over your entire body, scratching at your bones. Your lungs seem to catch fire despite the apparent lack of oxygen. With numb legs, watery eyes, and heaving chest, you excel forward, going farther than you ever thought possible.

Most of the Cross Country team has been training since August, along with a few dedicated runners who haven’t stopped since last track season. The training has paid off, as West’s cross country team is currently 1st in the conference, 3rd in the region, and 7th in the state for all 4A schools.

Rufus Brown, a junior this year and avid runner, shares his insight on the team’s strengths and weaknesses.

“We work together as a team very well. We have good leadership. We don’t have a lot of people on the team – it’s a small team. We don’t have a very strong team, but we work hard,” said Brown.

The team travels all over the state for meets. The team has ran at the Seahawk Invitational in Wilmington, the Jungle Run in Fayetteville, and the Early Bird Invitational at Wendell Park. They will be running at the Greensboro XC Invitational, as well as the Wendy’s Invitational in Charlotte.

“I like running because you don’t blame anyone else but yourself – whether you do, good or you do bad. It is a team thing, but at the same time, your success depends on you,” said Patrick Shaw, cross country coach and lead motivator for the team.

The team is typically outside every day after school, rain or shine. The only way to get better at running is to practice. The team running around the outskirts of West’s campus, or doing workouts on the track.

“Out of all the sports I’ve played, cross country is the hardest. If it was easy, like Coach Shaw says, everybody would do it”, said Chris Perez, a lead runner for the team.

Brown agreed with Perez, sharing his thoughts on Coach Shaw and running in general.

“He (Shaw) is very forceful. He was a runner in high school so he knows a lot. He pushes us, takes us on long runs… Very tough leadership. Running is different from other sports because it pushes your limits. It hurts, but I like racing a lot.”

Shaw has been coaching for fourteen years – four at Campbell University and ten at West Johnston. He is out every day, just as the team is, running rain or shine. If anyone on the cross country team is committed, it’s the coach.

“I like seeing people improve, and I just enjoy it (coaching). It feels like what I should be doing. If you train more, your results will speak for themselves, because you believe you can”, said Shaw.

More often than not, running is all about mentality. No one believes this more than Shaw. A positive attitude and a desire to achieve will go far – usually about 3.1 miles.

“I enjoy running because it’s a stress reliever, and I’m alright at it. I don’t really have anything bad to say about running. It’s all about you, the coach can only do so much; he can’t make you run, you have to push yourself. We push ourselves at practice, and we work good with each other”, said Perez.