Senior moments: Reflections from the 2011 trail runners

Will Zink, Noah Moeller, Marina Kovic, Taya Jae and Jessica Cary helped guide a young Falcon cross country program this season. Not pictured is senior Michael Cavender.  - Ben Watanabe / The Record
Will Zink, Noah Moeller, Marina Kovic, Taya Jae and Jessica Cary helped guide a young Falcon cross country program this season. Not pictured is senior Michael Cavender.
— image credit: Ben Watanabe / The Record

South Whidbey's senior cross country runners talk about the 2011 season - with its ups and its downs.

What was your career highlight?

Taya Jae: I ran a career personal record of 21:36. Even though I was completely exhausted, crossing that finish line was the most exhilarating moment in my cross country career.

Marina Kovic: My career highlight was when I unexpectedly ran in the districts race my sophomore year and had a spectacular race!

Jessica Cary: Running my career personal record of 21:04 at Lakewood Hole in the Wall as a sophomore.

Michael Cavender: My career highlight was getting to be in a very supportive team. When I came into cross country everyone was so supportive and there for each other it made me feel at home.

Noah Moeller: My career and season highlight would be running a 17:56 5K at Lakewood.

What was your senior season highlight?

Jae: I broke my ankle early on in the season so I didn’t do much running this year, but all the same it was a pleasure just to be a part of such a unique and humorous group of individuals.

Kovic: My senior season highlight was when we did the Sunfair fun run in our South Whidbey capes. I couldn’t stop smiling.

Cary: Our Seaside Oregon trip, 3 Course Challenge.

Cavender: The highlight of my senior year was being a joint team captain with Will Zink and being in charge of the boys team.

How have you improved over your career and this season?

Jae: I feel that I have shown a deep level of commitment to improving my running abilities every year. I’ve shown up to summer training, early morning practices and all the meets. Every year from July to November I give it my heart and soul ... and all my time!

Kovic: Over the course of the season I have cut about a minute off my time and have become more able to assess when I need to take a day off due to injury.

Cary: I knew it was my last chance to be able to race in high school so I trained as hard as a I could and tried my best to keep a positive attitude for the whole team, due to me being captain. Running on weekends and always running my hardest helped as well. Even though this season I didn’t have a career PR I had a fun season and was happy the way it ended. After four years of pushing myself through mud, sweat and tears I have to admit it’s a relief for it to be over.

Cavender: I have improved over my career by dropping more and more time each year. When I came in I was running a 22-minute 5K. I came out of cross country running a low 20. No state-winning pace, but it’s something.

Moeller: At the beginning of the season I didn’t feel like long distance was right for me but as the season went by I started to feel my body getting used to the distance.

Why run cross country?

Jae: To learn about dedication, teamwork, commitment and resilience. To refine one’s physical abilities and to push yourself to new extremes. It’s all about the spirit, all about the positive thinking.

Kovic: I run cross country because it is the best team I have ever been on. We encourage each other, we are all humble in our accomplishments and we truly find joy in the successes of our teammates.

Cary: I’ve made so many great friends and have challenged myself mentally and physically. It’s also a great way to stay in shape and something I can do year-round. My dad and I are training for a full marathon in Tucson, Ariz. on Dec. 11, and it helped so much to have a strong base of running after the season was over to work off of.

Cavender: I run cross country because of the type of sport it is. When cross country kids reach the finish we congratulate the people around us whether they’re from the same team or across the state.

Moeller: I’ve always enjoyed running, and in the fall it’s a great way to stay in shape.

What was your favorite moment not related to racing?

Jae: It has become cross country tradition that every member of the girls team buy a pair of footy pajamas (like onesies). My best moments are our overnight trips when we all lounge around in our various patterned fuzzy PJs.

Kovic: My favorite moment not related to my racing was when my brother broke 20 minutes. I knew making him come to the summer practices with me had paid off.

Cary: Not a specific moment, but I always loved the bus rides with the whole team. This year I feel like the girls and guys really came together as one team and had a great time socializing and becoming friends, which hasn’t happened in past years.

Cavender: My favorite cross country moment was playing pingpong at Fort Casey for camp my junior year.

Moeller: Spending time with the team, it’s always nice to be a part of something and this team was everything a team should be: supportive, hard working and fun.

What is the funniest story you have from this season?

Jae: Our bus rides to and from the meets are so funny they make me cry.

Kovic: It was pretty funny when Jessica was obsessed with this song by Maroon 5 called, “Moves Like Jagger,” and someone was talking to her about it and she said, “Wait, he says, ‘Moves like dragon,’ right?’ When we went on to tell her what the title of the song was she said, “Who’s Jagger?” There’s a generation gap for ya.

Cavender: The funniest story I have from this season is when Anthony Kovic climbed onto the roof at Fort Casey and Fulton got so mad it was ridiculous.

What is your best Fulton story?

Jae: This story is completely unrelated to running but it is by far the best Fulton story. I remember we were cleaning out the stands after a big home cross country meet, when I found a little plastic blue action figure among the trash and I jokingly asked Fulton if he wanted it. To my surprise he responded with a gleeful yes and took it in his hands. It really brought out a childlike enthusiasm which I believe is an important quality in everyone!

Kovic: He doesn’t really have one defined story. Fulton isn’t really an in-your-face funny guy, he more has his subtle jokes along the way. As a freshman I didn’t really get his humor but by senior year, I realize I’m going to miss those corny jokes.

Cavender: My best Fulton story ... that one’s tough. I would have to say seeing him dance at Fort Casey my sophomore year was about as good as it gets.

What was the most difficult part of the season?

Jae: When I found out that I broke my ankle and was going to be on my crutches until the last week of the season.

Kovic: The most difficult part of the season was battling a shin injury, especially towards the end.

Cary: Not breaking my career PR my senior year.

Cavender: The most difficult part of the season was watching my team from the sidelines and not being able to run due to an injured arch.

Moeller: I don’t have a single hard moment that pops out to me, but every race is always the hardest. You do your best and give it everything you have.

What is the best advice you received about running?

Jae: To pick a runner in front of me and reel her in, also to run fast, run hard and run happy!

Kovic: “Use the downhills. Drop your chin.” Some good ol’ Fulton wisdom.

Cary: It’s all mental! Anybody and everybody can do it, but it takes a lot of willpower to be able to do race like cross country runners do.

Cavender: The best advice I have ever received about running is, “A season is won in the offseason,” from Coach Doug Fulton.

Moeller: Don’t focus on how your body just wants you to stop or how hard the run is, but rather focus on something like the finish and how every step gets you closer.

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