When the sky turns silvery blue with those big puffy clouds and the first leaves threaten to turn from green to gold, even while the temperatures say it’s still summer, cross-country season begins. In power-house districts, mostly concentrated in wealthy suburbs, huge teams of teens congregate in parks for repeats, drills and strides through meadows and trails. But in some, like Eastlake North, a Division I school in the working class suburbs of Cleveland, Ohio, it can be more challenging to amass a dominating team. Other area high schools of similar size have dozens of girls spread out over freshman, JV, and vasity teams, but North has a total of ten: ten inspiring, determined girls you will get to know over the course of this season.
I wasn’t sure what to expect. A local financial planner somehow got hold of my business card and wanted to meet me. In particular, he wanted to discuss whether there was an opportunity for his business, the financial planning thing, and mine, this here running website, to work together. Under normal circumstances I might have blown him off assuming it was going to be a sales pitch; who’s got time for that? But for some reason, I agreed to the meeting.
With my three year old in tow, I was greeted by James Schleicher (SHLĪ-ker). When he charmed Jane so I could grab a coffee for me and a treat for her, I knew I liked this guy. He told me he was coaching a girls cross-country team and he was nervous. Would he be able to connect with them? Would he steer them in the right direction? His enthusiasm mixed with self-doubt was endearing. He wanted to do right by these girls he barely knew. And I wanted to help him.
And that’s how we came up with our plan to feature his team on Salty Running. I’m always on the hunt for someone in the running world who’s interesting to interview, or for special races to cover, or any kind of story you might want to read. And here, across from the table at my local Panera was all of that ripe for the picking.
Throughout the fall, we’ll bring you different stories, profiles, race recaps, and more about the Eastlake North High School Girls Cross-Country Team. We don’t know where the season will take them and we don’t know where they will take us, but as we’ve gotten to know these young women we’ve already been inspired, and we know they have a lot to teach us all.
We have matched each of the ten athletes up with a Salty Running mentor, who will get to know her, cheer extra loud for her, and get to know her for us. And with that, here’s a preview of the team you’ll soon be getting to know much more about!
Wish them luck as they kick-off what is sure to be a season to remember!
Did you run high school cross country and, if so, what lasting impact did it have in your life?
Chapter 1: The War on the Shore
Chapter 2: North to South
Chapter 3: Mentor Cardinal Classic
Chapter 4: The Brecksville Dip
Chapter 5: A Tale of Two Races
Chapter 6: Showing up in Strongsville
Chapter 7: The Gilmour Rise
Chapter 8: Into the Woods and Out Again
Chapter 9: The Conference Championship
Chapter 10: Rangers on Three
Chapter 11: The Lone Ranger