NCHS Cross Country Running Season 2022


Marykate Lacko

The Natrona County High School 2022 state cross country running team. They are sheltered from the gusting Casper winds inside their Teepee which they won in a previous race. Head coach Becky Sondag describes, “As a group, they are ‘all in’ on working hard and enjoying each other in the process”. Captured in this alone, is the welcomeness and friendship amongst these athletes.

Marykate Lacko, Editor/ Reporter

This season past season the word “extraordinary” defined the NC Cross Country Team’s commitment to each other and their sport. 

Head coach Becky Sondag recently shared how this key word helped motivate her athletes. “I asked them to do a little extra every day, thinking that the ‘extraordinary’ would arise from hard work.  It ended up coming from their kindness,” said Sondag. As an English teacher and top level athlete, Sondag knows both the power of words and the importance of striving to do more each day to excel in a demanding sport.

According to Sondag, this year the team found “value in prolonged suffering across miles, seasons, even years of training.” The end of the season saw varsity girls placing 2nd and varsity boys placing 4th at the state championships. Though the team didn’t walk away with a state title, they took much more from the season. They are a family– they play, love, celebrate, and cry together if needed,” said Sondag.

Relationships seems to be a common theme when talking to Cross Country runners this year. Tristen Enders, who was recognized by his coaches as a leader among his teammates, explained “My love for this sport solidified when I really became dedicated to running and to consistent progression, not only in mileage, but in my relationships with my teammates and friends.” 

Senior Jackson Dutcher ran cross country and played basketball for NC. He recently committed to running track and cross country at South Dakota State and was asked at his signing ceremony to sum up what he learned in high school that he will take with him to the next level. “Family,” said Dutcher. “One word.”

This past season, the team shared a life altering hardship when a family that was highly involved in Natrona’s track scene experienced a tragic driving accident. Cross country runners Jack and Diego Diaz lost their father Mauro and brother Mateo.  In the face of this tragedy, Natrona’s cross country athletes continued to work together and look out for each other, coming together as a family and completing the season in stride. “This season we all shared an experience which could have left us disconnected, hopeless or bitter…we have each other’s backs, so we pushed through all the bad in this season, just as we push through the race to the finish line at every meet,” said Enders.