Christian's Sports Beat - Born To Run
By: Christian Deiss
(Hurricane, WV) – This is an important time of the year for Cross Country runners as the high school and middle school fall running seasons are quickly approaching. Two sophomore runners, Bryer McPherson and Justin Belcher for Hurricane High School are two of the many runners gearing up after a long summer training season and are excited for the season ahead.
For the second year, I will be running for Hurricane Middle School Cross Country team and was able to train some with both 10-graders and quickly came to realize both Bryer and Justin can’t wait for the season to start, “I like tackling the hills, climbs can make or break a race and that is where I think I do my best,” says McPherson. For Belcher it’s all about the excitement level every race produces, “I like the adrenaline that flows through me during each and every race from start to finish.” As freshman last season, the two young runners helped the Redskins place eighth at the state championships.
I have liked running ever since I did my first mile with my dad six years ago. Seeing smiles on Bryer and Justin’s faces when they are running made me want to know why they also enjoy the sport. “I started running when I was in the sixth grade to get in shape for basketball. Then I started getting pretty good at it so I decided to stick with it and it has been nothing but fun, a lot of work, but still fun,” says Bryer. His running partner Justin uses running to stay calm, “Ever since I started running it has always been relaxing for me. After I run I usually feel really good and happy with what I accomplished.” Hurricane’s Cross Country team is traditionally ranked as one of the top teams in the state by RunWV.com.
For the second year, Coach Eric Cooper is heading up the Hurricane High School’s Cross Country program. Before a recent training session, I asked Coach Cooper his thoughts on his two up and coming runners, “From where they came in last year to where they are now, it is kind of night and day. I have watched them get stronger over the past year and right now, at their grade level, they’re among the top in the state.” Cooper is counting on both runners to be among the leaders of the squad this season.
I have come to realize how important training is for the sport and I have seen my times drop whenever I work hard. I have seen Bryer and Justin work very hard with their training and I wanted to know from Coach Cooper how good does he think they can get, “I think it is up to them. They definitely have the work ethic to be at the top. So as long as they keep that up and stay committed and focused, I think the sky is the limit for them.” Over the summer, Belcher was getting in 50-55 miles a week and McPherson was close behind with 40 – 45 miles per week.
As much as Coach Cooper enjoys training the two Hurricane sophomores, both Bryer and Justin like running and learning from their coach. “The biggest thing I have learned from coach (Cooper) is that I don’t have to compete every weekend during the summer and the season will take care of itself. He has also taught me to take care of my body so that I remain healthy and stay away from injuries,” says Belcher. Echoing those thoughts was McPherson, “I have learned almost everything I know from Coach Cooper, he worries about our health as much as he worries about race results.” With personal 5K records of 17:09 for Bryer and 17:30 for Belcher, both runners have been listening very closely.