BY CAMILA ZIADI
A&E Copy Editor
The girls cross-country team has experienced a change with the loss of its senior runners, one of which was star Katherine MacNeal, now competing for University of Mississippi. Coach Joseph Monks said MacNeal was a big part of the team’s qualifying for states, and current co-captain Shivani Dalal agrees that she has left a lasting legacy on the team.
“Without Kat our team will have to work harder knowing we don’t have someone as an anchor to get us those points to qualify for states,” said Dalal, a senior. “I think it will make us stronger and more motivated to work as a team instead of individually.”
Coach Monks said that even though MacNeal has left, the team is recruiting and training new players who seem to have a lot of promise and potential.
“Every program must move forward and develop new talent,” he said. “Shivani Dalal will help keep the tradition alive, along with newcomer freshman Olivia Childless.”
Dalal said that MacNeal served as a mascot of sorts for the team, and that the team will not be the same without her, but that she has left a great impact on the team by serving as a role model.
“She was our anchor in cross country, always placing Top 5 and for track always placing first in the mile,” Dalal said. “Cypress isn’t the same without her, but we will develop into great teams within the upcoming years.”
Co-captain Juliet Santiago, also a senior, agrees with Coach Monks and Dalal.
“Kat not being here anymore changes things when it comes to motivation,” Santiago said. “Everyone aspired to be as good of a runner as Kat, so not having her running alongside us is hard but we are training hard to be successful as well.”
Dalal and Santiago both said that they have been working very hard to become great runners and to lead the team.
“We have a lot of new and promising runners on our team which I’m very excited for,” Dalal said. “I would like to expose them to qualities of teamwork, dedication, self-discipline, but mostly passion for the sport.”
Along with MacNeal, runners Lauren Reynolds and Katherine Harris also graduated and left an impact on the team. But the current team remains optimistic about new freshman runners who will someday be able to lead.
“Both the cross-country and track season of course will greatly miss Kat and her successes, but it’s simply motivation to work even harder to someday obtain accomplishments like hers,” Santiago said.
Coach Monks says the team must move on from the loss and keep working hard since they are in one of the hardest regions of the state.
“We are moving forward developing some new freshmen talent as the senior girls will strive to keep the cross-country state qualifying tradition alive,” he said.