Cross Country runners reflect on season

The three runners who qualified for State have all earned titles at the IHSA meet. Senior Caroline Riss was one of the State qualifiers for cross country and placed 22 at the IHSA meet. Riss found motivation and confidence through cross country.
“I tried so many sports before I found cross country. I was so tired of not knowing what I was good at until eigth grade where I was persuaded to join cross country. People kept telling me I was good at running, so I decided to try it and fell in love with it,” Riss said.
Riss has been able to maintain her motivation throughout her high school career with the help of her teammates and coaches.
“My main supporters have been my teammates and coaches. They have all gotten to know me so well and know how to put me back together when I fall apart. I had a rough start to the season this year, but having those people around me made me keep pushing through and reach my goals for the season,” Riss said.
Cross country is a sport that involves long distance running, which requires the athletes to have stamina and pace themselves. Not only is it physical stamina, but also preparing mentally.
“This sport has taught me mental toughness and how to have confidence in myself. Running is such a mental sport, so if you aren’t confident in your abilities, you won’t perform as well as you probably could,” Riss said.
After placing at State, Riss still has goals for the future, including to continue running after high school.
“My future goals for my running career are to run at the collegiate level and just enjoy competing. I’m hopeful that my collegiate seasons will be just as successful as my high school ones, and I can’t wait to see what’s next for me,” Riss said.

Senior Connor Riss was the only boy from boys cross country to qualify for State and won all All-State Honors at the meet. Riss started running in middle school and has enjoyed it ever since.
“Originally, I started running cross country in seventh grade because of my gym teacher. I ended up being somewhat good at it and even qualified for State. When I got to high school, though, I decided to try out for the soccer team for the first two years,” Riss said. “After my second year, I came to the conclusion that soccer was no longer for me. I wanted to become a full-time runner. So my junior year, I went back to cross country. It was the best decision that I ever made.”
Riss has been supported by many of his friends and family throughout his running career. He also thinks of his opponents as motivators too.
“What motivates me to do better is the constant thought of my competitors trying to beat me. I don’t like to lose, so I am reminding myself that if I want to remain one of the best, then I have to train harder,” Riss said. Not only has Riss learned more about stamina, cross country has also taught him life lessons. “Cross-country has taught me to be patient. In my first race of the season this year, I did not do near as well as I expected to. I set a standard for myself to be great. I realized that I was going to have to put work to get to where I wanted to be instead of being there at the very beginning,” Riss said. “I learned to be patient and wait to peak. As it turns out, I ran my best exactly when I needed to.”
Riss is determined to continue running in both cross country and track, and he has long term goals.
“I want to compete for a State medal in track this year and continue to run competitively in college. In college, I would like to be named an All-American in both cross country and track,” Riss said.

Junior Kelli Tosic placed 14th at State for girls cross country and broke the District 127 record for a three mile time.
“After playing soccer for seven years, I decided to try running competitively with my middle school. I was completely hooked after the first meet and knew that I wanted to dedicate my time to running,” Tosic said.
Tosic has been able to improve throughout her career and find motivations from all aspects of her life.
“By running every race to my fullest potential and receiving incredible support from my coaches and teammates, I was able to prepare for the State meet. Their encouragement has always pushed me to be a better runner,” Tosic said.
Tosic has been able to learn lessons beyond the sport to be applicable to lessons she can use in her life.
“Cross country has taught me the importance of mental toughness. We are capable of doing anything physically, but our mentality is what can hinder us from achieving greatness,” Tosic said.
Tosic plans to continue a career in running but focuses more on her progress.
“In the future, I hope to improve my times and push myself to limits that I currently can’t fathom. I hope to encourage more people to run and experience the fun of being on a team,” Tosic said.
She also has been adjusting her mentality and progress throughout the season, which helped her gain confidence.
“Throughout the season, I have made progress by gaining more confidence to help improve my running. Once I finally was confident enough to stay with the front group in a race and wouldn’t die a terrible death, I had more success,” Tosic said.