Highland Cross Country Is One of 12 Teams At State Competition


Daria Khajavi

Varsity runner Lola Maldenando competes in the Utah state cross country competition.

Charlotte Wolff, Social Media Director


Supportive friends and non-competing teammates of Highland’s cross country team sported black shirts with this catchy phrase at their state competition on October 23rd. Utah high schools have the best cross country teams in the country, and Highland is always a part of it, being one of the largest high school teams at 75 students. 

Assistant cross country coach Gary Rowles has been coaching for over 45 years, 9 of those years at Highland. His knowledge and wisdom regarding running skills has carried on through his coaching with head coach Tera Hunter, leading the Highland team to the state competition.

“You have to encourage the athletes to know that they shouldn’t just be satisfied with getting to state… Once they get to state, their goal should be to have the best performance of the year,” Rowles said. 

Despite the intense training the team undergoes throughout the season in preparation of the state competition, one of the hardest challenges for runners is not the physical strength it takes to endure a race, but rather the mental strength. Varsity runner and Highland senior Roma Maloney competed in the state competition, and it wasn’t easy for her.

“I think the hardest part was just trying to keep myself mentally positive, because it’s always hard when you’re in that much pain to just tell yourself to keep running and tell yourself that you can finish the race. It’s just being in pain and making yourself push through it,” Maloney said. 

Out of 12 total competing teams, the girl’s team finished 15th in the competition, and the boy’s team finished 20th. Though Highland did not win the competition, the team stresses the importance of support and encouragement between teammates in order to create a strong connection in the team, regardless of talent and ability.

“I would say we definitely [have a strong bond], it’s definitely a really friendly and accepting environment because everybody is sort of suffering together and we are able to commiserate with everyone else. We have team dinners and it isn’t really important how good you are. If you’re on the team and you’re willing to put in effort, everybody is going to support everyone else,” Maloney said.