With a tincture of cold in the air signaling the arrival of a new season, the 2016-2017 fall sports season is already nearing its end. Yet before the end, the KIS Varsity Cross Country team has returned from the 13th Asia Pacific Invitational (API) Cross Country Championships held at Guam, bringing back special news to KIS. Over 300 runners from 23 international schools participated in this year’s API meet, nevertheless our runners have done us proud, placing overall 4th. The team has claimed several individual titles, set personal records, and exhibited astonishing performance.
This year’s Varsity Cross Country Team comprised of 14 runners, 7 boys, Roger Han (’17), Doohwan Kim (’17), Jake Lee (’17), Jeremy Ryu (’18), Alex Han (’18), Daewon Hong (’18), Patrick Seong (’19), and 7 girls, Michelle Kwon (’18), Jenny Lee (’19), Alice Jo (’19), Amy Purdon (’19), Beth Purdon (’19), Aris Huang (’19), Gina Lee (’20).
Despite the worries of the team being the youngest ever, the KIS Varsity Cross Country Team outperformed all schools from Korea as well as those from other countries in Asia. The Girls team placed overall 4th, and the Boys team placed 5th. It was an extremely close race—a total score standoff with JFK—with the relay being the tiebreaker, putting us to 4th. However, individual runners set blistering paces as well. For the first time in KIS history, three runners claimed individual titles. Jenny Lee (’19) received 8th place, setting a season best time of 21:48. Michelle Kwon (’18), again led her way to Top 15, received 10th place. From the Boys race, Patrick Seong (’19) received 6th place, clocking in at 18:02, his personal best time.
To take a closer look at the team’s accomplishments and personal outlooks, Blueprint has interviewed the team captains and head coach, Mr. Reschke.
- How do you feel about the API race and the team’s performance?
“This year’s API Guam was a mark in KIS XC history. The team did better than ever before, which, in all honesty, was not something that any of us had been expecting to achieve. I have to say, though, I would never forget missing out on a chance to win the first ever API trophy. We only lost out to the third placed team by the tie-breaking system. But considering that we were without two of the captains, our overall performance was remarkable, and I’m happy with the fact that everyone performed at the expected level or above. I would like to give special credits to Patrick, Jenny, and Michelle, who were in the top 15 of the entire API, making it three KIS runners with the individual API award and another improvement on the already-exceptional result of last year.” —Roger Han (’17)
“I’m proud that we made a new KIS record at API and surprised that we just get better as the years go on. We definitely surprised other schools by telling them that we’re still in the game.”—Doohwan Kim (’17)
“ The API Race is a unique and special part of cross country where we are able to race against talented runners and it’s really cool to be able to meet teams not just from Japan but from China and Guam as well. I’m just really proud of how well we did and how much stronger our team has gotten! Every year we do better than the year before and it’s amazing to be able to be a competitor to these great teams. —Michelle Kwon (’18)
- How do you feel about this year’s XC team?
“We lost three senior varsity members and some of the underclassmen were naturally expected to step-up, which they did. Also, we have an unusually small number of upperclassmen runners this year, including just two of the boys captains, so the burden of leadership was bound to trickle down. Thankfully, the expected underclassmen have shown great progress in not just their times, but in their leadership skills as well. From a long-term vision, I feel that this season is a transitionary one, as the team will undoubtedly get better on the oncoming seasons. But so far, our team atmosphere and race results have been nothing short of great.” —Roger Han (’17)
“Probably the team with the most potential so far. We always say we are tired but end up pushing each other to the absolute limits.”—Doohwan Kim (’17)
“I LOVE THEM!” —Michelle Kwon (’18)
“I’m very proud of this team. I can see the growth of the team over the year of how we started the season and how we are now towards the end; we’ve seen improvement out of every single member of the team. We’ve had less injuries this year as well. I think the students who have stuck with it year after year have definitely seen their improvement, getting stronger and faster as well. Dynamics among and within the team have definitely changed, but that’s going to happen every year. Each year brings a different set of students, but it’s still been a very productive and good year so far. ”—Coach Reschke
- What do you wish to accomplish before the season ends?
“Last year, the boys’ team was second place in KAIAC Conference and KAIAC Tournament, and I’m sure we can achieve similar results this year. We have found consistency as the season progressed, and we are only getting better. As for the girls, this year’s girls team is the best ever in KIS history, evidenced by their performance in Guam. With the way they are going, I expect them to sweep all the rewards.” —Roger Han (’17)
“Before the season ends, I would like to see this last week some more team bonding. As far as the races go, the students know what they’re doing. But I think what makes cross country so special is towards the end, there’s more team bonding, creating the family unit, a sense of community among the team. I’m not going to be concerned of any scores or championships, as the students are going to run, and they’re prepared. I’m not going to be looking for best times, but rather to finish the season on a high note. And I want to make sure students run the best they possibly can.”—Coach Reschke
- Last words for the team?
“Whether it’s the race or the season, we don’t stop until the very end. Let’s fight through it.”—Roger Han (’17)
“Remember that we are a family! Always take care of each other. Cross Country may be an individual sport, but we win as a team.”—Doohwan Kim (’17)
Coach Reschke shared a note to the departing seniors:
“Those of you who’ve been with the team for only a few years or all four years, congratulations for sticking it through. You’ve improved yourselves to really have the stamina to be able to finish and finish strong with a very tough and demanding year. I’ve asked a lot out of you this year, but you’ve came through, followed through. And it’s been an impressive year. Thank you.”
Altogether, this year’s cross country team has shown spectacular growth and is ready to claim another great season at the upcoming KAIAC race. Although cross country may lack the spirited supporters and spectators, the Cross Country team has achieved and accomplished. Although cross country may seem like an individual sport, let me reiterate captain Doohwan’s words, “Cross Country may be an individual sport, but we win as a team.”
– Yoo Bin Shin (’18)
Featured Image: Mr. Reschke