Key Cross Country Runners Out, New Runners In

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Senior Tabitha Bevan runs at the Forest Park Cross Country Festival. Bevan finished in first place as she continues her successful career at North. Photo via Steve Myers.

Alex Shields, Staff Writer

The Parkway North cross country team looks quite different this year. They lost a majority of their upperclassmen from last year, but there’s an influx of freshmen who have filled those spots and.
Last year, four seniors who were on the cross country team graduated. This year, ten freshmen and nine new runners who aren’t freshmen joined the team.
“We were kind of concerned,” said head coach Monyenda Anwisye. “We thought this would be a rebuilding year, but we’ve gotten a good crop of new runners. They’ve stepped up and filled a big void.”
There are eight runners graduating this year. One of them, senior Tabitha Bevan, has been a cornerstone of not only North’s cross country team, but also North athletics during her high school career.
“It’s kind of bittersweet,” said Bevan. “On one hand, I’m going to be starting a new adventure by running in college, hopefully. But on the other hand, I’m really going to miss this team and the coaches.”
Though Bevan is moving on after this season, she’s not done quite yet.
“I’m definitely looking to go to State again,” said Bevan, who came in 47th in State in 2020 and 43rd in State in 2019.
Even though Bevan has goals for this season, she does realize that it will soon be time to move on. Even though she won’t be around, she recognizes that the team is in good hands.
“I think this year, we’re extremely strong,” said Bevan. “In years past, we’ve gotten like two new freshmen. This year, we have like 10 new freshmen.”
The veteran runner feels that these underclassman they have a real chance of making it to State at some point.
Bevan emphasized that although she has gone to state Several times, she went by herself and was lonely which lowered her morale. With the team growing, this most likely won’t be the case for much longer.
More importantly than the sheer number of new runners is how much they’re enjoying it so far.
“I like it a lot more than middle school,” said freshman Sophie Wong. “Everyone’s pretty cool…and supportive.”
At the Forest Park Cross Country Festival, Wong placed third in the girl’s junior varsity race. A week later, in the 2021 Paul Enke Invitational at Sioux Passage Park, she placed second in the girls junior varsity race.
Despite Wong’s success so far, State isn’t the first goal on her mind. One of her goals is to set personal records at each race.
“No, [making it to State is not my goal this year],” said Wong. “Maybe the race after Districts.”
Anwisye is very confident in the team and thinks they’re better than last year. The amount of freshmen is encouraging to him.
“I think the future is really, really bright. This is the largest freshmen group we’ve had since both [Coach] Crawford and I have [coached at North]. It’s really inspiring,” said Anwisye.
In cross country, the team can’t rely on just one runner. In races, although individual runners can place, the team itself scores based on all of the runners. One runner’s impressive time can be negated if the rest of the team isn’t performing well.
Despite the substantial turnover, the team still has hope that they can make it to State in 2021.
“We’re looking to see if we can get a team out of here on the boys and girls side to the State meet,” said Anwisye.
With this newer and stronger team and an excited head coach, this cross country squad has the potential to do great things this year. Although the baton is being passed, it’s in good hands to finish the race strongly.