Girls’ cross country team strides towards success


Jacob Casella

DGS cross country leads the way as they race for the win.

When people think of the fall season at DGS they think of starting the new year off strong, going to varsity football games and looking forward to homecoming. But the DGS girl’s cross country team thinks differently as they are keeping their focus on striving to become the best runners they can be.

The girl’s cross country team holds a high-titled reputation. “We have won 19 conference titles in a row. We have qualified the team to the State meet for 7 years in a row. We have placed 4th and 5th in state the last two seasons. We are currently ranked 3rd in the state and in the top 25 nationally,” head varsity coach Doug Plunkett said.

Although this year is “one of the most competitive seasons for girls cross country in Illinois,” Plunkett wishes for varsity to be able “–to finish in the top 3 at State and have the opportunity to qualify the team to NXN Nationals.”

Plunkett isn’t the only one who wants to take home a trophy. Freshman varsity runner Kelsey Casella has high hopes for her team.  “We really wanna get top 3 in state. And after state we want to go to NXR and we could possibly run in NXN so that’s really cool,” Casella said.

However, competing to be the best runners out there is not easy seeing as it takes overcoming obstacles. Sophomore Kailey Ferguson feels this way, “–the mental side of the sport is really challenging. You can really ruin a whole race because of your mindset and (your mindset) could really affect anything,” Ferguson said.

Plunkett feels the cross country team has put in a great amount of dedication to achieve their success. They have worked out during their summer vacations in order to get a headstart in front of the other teams they compete against. “These girls are up running at 7:00am six days a week all summer long before the season even begins. That dedication pays off,” Plunkett said. The girl’s also “run a very competitive schedule” in order to prepare to run against competing schools.

Casella can simply agree to this. “It’s hard. It’s not just running the whole time. There’s a lot more to it like mentally and our workouts and stuff,” Casella said.

Though they face several challenges, Plunkett, Casella and Ferguson can all agree that they rely on their teammates and coaches for support and motivation. “We do lots of team activities that don’t involve running and they help create a real bond among the girls. I think they end up showing up and working hard more for each other than they do for themselves.” Plunkett said.

“My teammates are always there for me so even if my head is in a negative spot there’s always someone on the team who can bring me up,” Casella said.

Ferguson also feels this is the kind of positive environment she runs in. “–all of my friends make it really fun and my teammates are supportive and energized and make me happy to be there. They make me push myself and my coaches because they really put me in the mindset to do good and work hard,” Ferguson said.

Ferguson’s determination of “checking out in the last mile and passing those people in the last mile” is also something she likes to think of when wanting to help contribute to her team’s success.

Plunkett isn’t the only one coaching as Tess Johnson, Mike Farthing, and Mike Arenberg also assist in coaching the DGS cross country team. The coaches are “very about how pressure on an athlete shouldn’t be something negative, it should be positive,” Casella said. She believes the girls should take pressure as an opportunity to drive themselves further.

“This is without a doubt, the best cross country team I’ve ever had,” Plunkett said.

The cross country team’s next meet is this weekend, September 29th. They compete in the Roy Griak Invite in Minnesota.