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Local runners are top athletes and emerging community leaders

By Staff | Jun 28, 2013

High school cross country runners compete in the fall semester, but the boys and girls teams from Jefferson High School have been hitting the pavement this summer to promote their team to local businesses and sponsors. Team representatives recently shared their stories at the June 11, 2013 meeting of the Rotary Club of Shepherdstown where they presented a program on the benefits of persevering in running and in life titled, “Personal Best: When running shapes individual and team character.”

Members of cross country team are among the best representatives of Jefferson County, devoting themselves to excellence in the classroom, on trails and cross-country courses across the region, and as volunteers in our community. Their reputation in the state is well established. In 2012, the boy’s squad brought home Potomac Valley Conference and Regional Championships and a third place finish at the State Championships. The girls qualified for the State Championships for the first time since 2009 by bringing home a third place finish at Regionals. Overall, runners from the Jefferson Cross Country team have contributed to six State Championships in cross-country and track since 2009.

But these runners use their skills to go beyond athletic success. The dedication and discipline needed to excel in our sport translate to the classroom where an impressive 91% of the team is currently on the Jefferson High School Honor Roll. These students have taken on challenging course loads filled with College, Advanced Placement and Honors courses. In addition, many team members have earned National Honor Society honors, play in the school band, serve as school and club officers, and earned Eagle Scout honors.

In the community, they annually volunteer to support a youth running camp, helping to get young boys and girls engaged in the outdoors by serving as coaches and mentors to young runners from the tri-state area. Team members volunteer for the public library, local churches, and food drives. The entire team volunteers at two local races – Freedom’s Run and Harpers Ferry Half Marathon to set up water stations and cheer on runners.

Team members are busy all summer conditioning their bodies for the tough 3.1-mile courses they face during competition races throughout West Virginia. Beginner runners aim for completing 200 miles in the summer, while veteran runners increase their mileage goal. “We run around 400-600 miles over the summer to prepare for the season, according to Senior Jackson Jacobs, “there are hot and humid days when I really don’t feel like a 10 mile run, but I do it anyway.”

Coach Suzy Munnis works with the athletes to set goals during the summer so they are focused on what they need to accomplish when the season begins. “We focus on building core strength, flexibility, healthy habits, and their running form during our summer conditioning weeks. Each one of them will set their personal goal as well as a team goal during our retreat and they can hold each other accountable and motivated.” Coach Munnis added, “We have an awesome group of freshman coming in this year working alongside our seasoned upperclassmen it should be an interesting season!”

Meet the team and participate in their family-friendly running event, the Cougar Challenge 5K, 2K Fun Run and Tot Trot at Sam Michaels Park on Saturday, June 29th. Sponsorship opportunities are still available to support the Jefferson Cross Country team and invest in future leaders. Contact Coach Munnis at suzymunnis@live.com.