Sports Feature – Written by Reilly Kneedler
Originally featured in the October 8th issue of the Scratching Post
“Running is one of those sports where you kinda need other people to help push you to go faster,” said Betsy Arlt, Eastmont’s top female cross country runner. “It helps to have them around in a race.”
This presents quite a paradox for the modern cross country competitor: the rival helps you get a better time.
Yet most runners would agree on this point, so often the lines between enemy and friend are blurred beyond recognition.
In an equally unique place, a valley such as this with two high schools only minutes apart, blurred lines can often foster deep appreciations and relationships amongst runners.
And so enters Cole Christman, a Wenatchee Panther with an unbelievable level of talent, making him the top seed for the WHS cross country team.
As another name in the Wenatchee Valley that regularly has a No. 1 by it, Christman has learned over time to develop an appreciation for the makeup of an average race day, seeing as the girls varsity always competes before the guys take their turn.
“I definitely take the time to watch Betsy compete. Since she’s a great runner and I know her style, I can watch where she really takes off on the course and then adjust my strategy,” he said.
This method has seemed to pay off for him so far, if his season progress is any indication. Christman’s first three races led to three top finishes, then an equally as impressive seventh place finish in the Nike Pre-Nationals held in Oregon.
Although according to Christman, routinely watching other cross country races is all in a day’s work.
“Even on days when we have home meets and don’t have to be at the park until a certain time, our coach always has us come early and support the other racers,” Christman said.
This is a method also utilized by Arlt; she says that the boys varsity races are always worth watching. When it comes to arguably the top male high school cross country runner in the area, Arlt finds nothing but admiration.
“Cole is just really talented,” she said, “His races are a lot of fun to watch.”
Support seems to bust at the seams for this sport, especially when it comes to the larger meets.
“Wenatchee is just a great team to have competition with,” Arlt said. “Plus it’s always nice to see other Wenatchee Valley people at the big meets. It’s reassuring to see people from where you’re from.”
After a severe knee injury that benched her for a few weeks of competition, Arlt had some unique time to reflect on the dynamics of her team.
“(Being injured) is really frustrating for me personally, because you train all summer long for the season,” she said. “But being able to watch and support the other runners is fun too. It’s kind of nice to be able to teach them and relax for a bit.”