Updated: Jun 21, 2020
To see a high school season taken away from all athletes in Washington was one of the saddest things to have ever happen.
And for athletes like Jacob Alexander, a senior at Sehome High School in Bellingham, we won't get to see them run one last time at the high school level.
Even though we don't get to see these athletes compete one last time, we won't ever forget their accomplishments from the last four years.
Many teams thought this would be the year the cross country championship streak would end for the Sehome boys, but because of the leadership Alexander brought towards a young, but talented team, Sehome rose to the occasion in Pasco and reclaimed the golden runner.
With another state team title added this last fall, Alexander ended his high school career being part of three state championship teams at Sehome. This is his legacy story.
By Jacob Alexander
Running began as a sport that I decided to do because I wasn’t terrible at it; before I could blink, I was captain of a varsity team, standing on the first hill of the Washington XC state course in Pasco, right next to 6 other guys, all of which I’d take a bullet for.
I gazed down the hill towards the start line at the other teams all preparing to race as hard as they could. I turned around, formed a circle with my teammates, and began my pre-state race speech.
"This is it. Everything we’ve done has led to this moment. All our training, all our work, all our team dinners, all our races, they’ve all led us to right here, right now."
We open the circle to look at the start line again.
"You see all those teams down there? They’ve all been led to this moment, and they all want to see us lose. They want to see a seven year streak break today. They want to see a legacy fall today."
We reform the circle.
"We will not let that happen. It doesn’t matter how we feel right now because there is nothing we can do about it. The only thing that matters right now is that we get onto that line, and when the gun goes off, we leave every last breath on this course. If you feel sick, if you have a side cramp, if you feel off, you think of your teammates. They are running as hard as they can. They are running through the pain. They are doing everything they can to help us win. Today, we will walk away with an eighth state win in a row, or we will walk away knowing we did everything we could."
We look back at the start line.
"Let’s go make them lose."
And that is precisely what we did.
Running at state for Sehome is a feeling unlike any other. Every step you take within that golf course, you feel like you have a target on your back. You know that all the teams want to win, but they also want to see you lose.
With 7 years on our backs, the pressure is on from day one of cross country. That stress of losing the streak sits with every current and potential state runner. This stress pushes us to train hard, but train smart. It pushes us to run harder in races and cross that line knowing we ran as fast as we could.
Despite this, there is so much more that makes us a consistent target at state, a team that can put seven guys in front of other teams’ fourth runner, a team with eight consecutive state titles.
There are many things, when combined, make this happen. Our constant support from parents and friends, our coaches and community with a wealth of knowledge on the sport, the beautiful Chuckanut Mountain in our backyard, but none of this compares to the relationships formed as teammates.
I would call any person on our team, of over 50 guys, a friend. All our team dinners, our camping trip, being easily the most annoying team at Whitepass, filling a kiddy pool full of chips, having 5 Wii's set up in one room for a Mario Kart tournament (I still want a rematch), filling that same kiddy pool with a 12 pack of soda per person, completely ripping apart a 3-person towable tube, the list goes on and on.
It’s moments like these that form a relationship so strong, that when you finish a race and didn’t do well, you aren’t upset you raced bad, but rather that you didn’t do your part for your teammates. This is what makes Sehome one of the greats in Washington State High School XC. This is the fuel to Sehome’s legacy.
Being a senior, I am glad to have done my part to contribute to this legacy, just like all those before me. I worked my hardest to leave behind a mindset to succeed as a team. I didn’t fully learn this until my senior year.
For so long, I focused on furthering myself as an athlete, without focusing on furthering our team. The second I stopped running for myself and I started running for our team, I reached new heights as a runner. Pain became irrelevant. I found myself pushing harder than I ever had before, finding my limits without even knowing it. Sehome is the perfect atmosphere for this mindset, and I believe it is what truly leads to our continued success over the years.
I would like to end this with a message to my teammates.
I wouldn’t be who I am today if it wasn’t for all of you. It doesn’t matter if you are the slowest or fastest runner, each and every one of you helped me grow and helped the team grow. The atmosphere we created is unlike any other I’ve seen during my time as a cross country runner at Sehome.
To my seniors, I will miss all of you and I hope we can find time to run in the future.
To my teammates who graduated before me, thank you for being the best role models for myself and the rest of the team.
To John and Kerr, thank you for being there for me through all my hardships and helping me overcome them to be the runner, the person I am today.
Finally, to the current and future runners for the 2020 Sehome cross country season and beyond; You guys are going to have an awesome season next year and will continue to for a long time. Just keep being yourselves and keep upsetting teams that think they can beat Sehome XC.
If you are a senior who just graduated from any high school in Washington, or Hermiston, Oregon, and would like to submit a "My Legacy" story to The Runner WA, email me at email@example.com.