By Sim Ramírez
Special To The Herald
The road to the Cross Country State Champion-ships is an arduous one. For the Water Valley High School Cross Country team, it was a journey that began in Myrtle and ended in Clinton. The road to the Cross Country State Championships took place over varied terrain, including forest trails, gravel, dirt roads, concrete, asphalt, and mud. The road to the Cross Country State Champion-ships went through the searing August heat to the cool, frosty mornings of November. The only constant was, and is, the distance – five kilometers – roughly three miles.
This year’s WVHS Cross Country team consisted of eighth grader Matthew Dunn, ninth graders Lillian Lindsey and Coulter Clement, and junior Dante Ramírez. While compact and small in number, the team was able to come away with victories, top finishes, and personal records.
Freshman Lillian Lindsey continues to set the pace for the team. Leading by her work ethic, Lindsey is the epitome of dedication and determination. Never verbose in her leadership, but laconic and lucid in her actions, she is the standard bearer for the varsity team. With seven top-finishes, including two first place wins, and a first place finish for the Region 2, District 3 race, Lillian came away from the 3A State Championships with a 6th place finish, which for the second year in a row, makes her an All-State Cross Country runner.
When asked about her season and performances, Lindsey stated, “I was really excited about my two wins. I feel like my times could’ve been faster, but I think I had a pretty good season and finished it out well at state.” Her felicitous aura as a teammate exhorts her teammates to strive for personal bests whenever they run; she is the exemplar they wish to emulate.
Coulter Clement, also a ninth grader, had two top-finishes this season and continues to shine in his endeavors. His work ethic keeps him in the running, literally and for those elusive top-finishes. Along with Matthew Dunn, eighth grader, and elder statesmen of the group, junior Dante Ramírez, these young men are consistently embroiled in the battle between will and exhaustion. The ineffable exertion of running with nothing to cajole one forward except the paradigm set by the team’s Wonder Woman, Lillian Lindsey, these young men work to match her intensity and training. The camaraderie espoused and etched in their lives comes through the commiseration of sweat and effort. A tightly-knit group that seeks to exhort each other into personal records.
A season of personal bests and the incongruity that one’s training is often met and exceeded by the competition is what awaits the team in the off-season. Some members will begin training for track season. Lindsey hopes “to get my 3200m times down to the low twelves…and would love to get a medal at state.” It is not abstruse to realize that fitness is easier to lose than to gain. With fitness at the forefront of Coach Keli Lindsey’s mind, she has implemented a year-round training regimen for these young stalwarts. Lillian, Matthew, Coulter, and Dante are all proponents of faster times and top-finishes and realize that victories do not come without effort and sacrifice.
This small team of Matthew Dunn, Coulter Clement, Lillian Lindsey, and Dante Ramírez offer a rebuttal to those that believe that this generation of young men and women lack the grit and diligence to be successful. The Water Valley Cross Country team is continually striving for the medal stand and top-finisher award t-shirts.. While this season is now in the record books, this young team repudiates any laurels they have earned and seeks to create new ones.