Vista Ridge's top two cross country runners, Seth Woodring and Anthony Peters, couldn't help but feel like they were on the outside looking in to Vista Ridge's state title celebration in track during the spring.
The Wolves went to the finals in 11 of the state's 18 events, none of which included a single distance event.
"I'm proud of our track team, and of course, we were a team," Woodring said. "But you can't help but want to leave your mark and be a part of the actual event at a championship. I'm happy we won, but I can't say I wouldn't have loved it even more to been one of the guys who participated in the meet. That would have felt even better."
Now it's cross country season. And today, in the thick of warm weather in Colorado, Woodring and Peters are looking to improve a running atmosphere at Vista Ridge that has been dominated by sprinters and field athletes lassoed in from their primary sports like football and basketball.
Woodring, a junior, is ready to leave his mark, too. And while he understands why distance running isn't highlighted at pep rallies or around the halls like some other sports are, he is determined to change that.
"You know, we are the cross country kids. Are we necessarily the quote unquote cool kids around school? Maybe not to some people, but you know, success helps. It will help," Woodring said. "I think we'll get more recognition as we go this season and that'll be a good first step."
The Wolves, from a team standpoint, are a bit of a mystery as to what to expect three months from now. Sure, Woodring and Peters are both top-echelon runners, but its three-four-five members are running about 1 minute-to-90 seconds behind the those top two.
"We have some work to do, but we are excited with the kids we got and just the continued growth of our team," said first-year head coach Nathan Truex, who has been the assistant for the last couple of years. "It's a lot of fun with this team right now. I remember during track season Anthony (Peters), who was just a freshman, starts talking to the team about how we were a family. And it really has been."
Vista Ridge's team, a group that hangs out after practice and goes to one another's house for pasta "family" dinners, then comes to practice looking to "tear each other apart," said Truex.
And Peters and Woodring lead the competitive battle.
"I always want to beat him," Woodring said, "I don't want, especially someone younger than me, to beat me. And that kind of competition is essential for a team. Thankfully, we have that."
Vista Ridge won the 4A race at the Cheyenne Mountain Stampede on Aug. 29 to kick off its season. Still, after doing a virtual race of the Wolves' region, Truex said his team is about sixth or seventh place in a region that only qualifies the top four teams for state.
Luckily though, he has Woodring and Peters, and they are ready to change that too at Vista Ridge.
"Of course the goal is to always be the best team in the state and I think we could get there in a couple years," said Peters, who missed qualifying for state in the 800 meters by less than one second. "I think we need to take another step this year and make state to start changing the culture. We are going to create a winning culture here."