The student news site of Freehold Township High School

Patriot Press

The student news site of Freehold Township High School

Patriot Press

The student news site of Freehold Township High School

Patriot Press

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Reflecting on Cross Country Season

Reflecting+on+Cross+Country+Season

Just by walking through the halls of Freehold Township High School, you can tell that there are many clubs and sports within our school community. You can always hear the band playing from the music hall, hear reminders about club meetings over the announcements, and see flyers about fundraisers in classrooms. 

However, some organizations within the schools are more deeply-rooted than others, such as our girl’s cross country team. For approximately fifty-one years, the girl’s cross country team has been an arguably undermined, unnoticed team. Believe me, as a member of the team for three years and the daughter of head coach Todd Briggs, I know that nobody really talks about our sport. But, in the last two years, we have worked hard enough to give people something to talk about. In both the 2022 and 2023 seasons, we won Monmouth County, Shore Conference, Sectional, and Group Championships, and scored in the top 6 teams overall in the state. Plus our leading lady Emma Zawatski has won at least one of each of these races, being the back-to-back champion in the Shore Conference, Sectional, and Group races. She also won the Meet of Champions (MOC) both years, a be-all end-all meet of the season where only the best teams qualify to compete. 

The 2023 Girls Cross Country program during their Senior Day meet.

Although we’ve been very successful these past few years, one of my favorite parts about being a part of this team are the people within it. This year we had about thirty athletes. Not only is this a large number considering our team’s history, but we also had twelve seniors. While that meant that the rest of the team had to work hard to complete a dozen fully-decorated senior posters for our annual senior day, that also meant that we would be saying goodbye to twelve very important people, some of whom I have run with since the 6th grade. In a way, for me, it felt like saying goodbye to my older sisters. We see each other every day after school, during lunch, and sometimes in the mornings before the day even begins. Plus, as a junior with no older siblings, these girls always gave me the best advice about high school and teenage life in general. 

Additionally, having so many girls to look up to has helped me realize how important it is for me and the other juniors on the team to take care of the underclassmen. Doing so might help the team succeed on race day, but it will also help secure the bond and sisterhood that I have with the upperclassmen. With the amount of love and devotion I have to this team, I know I want to leave in good hands. This concept of looking after underclassmen, rather than focusing only on those older than you, can be applied to all clubs and sports. Just like our parents look to us as the next generation, we can look to those younger than us as those who will take charge one day. By naturally striking up a conversation or acknowledging them in the hallways, underclassmen can feel more comfortable around the organization, as they know that they are being noticed. 

Overall, without the girl’s cross country team, I would be without the experience and friendships I have made these past couple of years. Also, I would have never met the twelve girls I now consider my family or met the freshmen and sophomores who I will leave the team with one day. Until then, I know I won’t take any school day, after-school practice, or race for granted, and be grateful for every win, loss, joke, and argument I have with these girls.

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