XC conquers Sioux Passage

Cross country runners took on the Man Maker hill of Sioux Passage Park with stability of mind and body.


Rhyen Standridge

Hamilton finishes on the last stretch of a downhill. Maintaining a steady personal pace and mindset is imperative to performance.

Essy Ingram, Staff reporter

Hundreds of hearts pump. Hands, glistening with sweat, rhythmically make jagged marks in the humid air. Bodies, weary yet determined, propel on. Adrenaline floods the atmosphere as racers approach the infamous hill. Sioux Passage is home to the daunting 400-meter long incline runners affectionately refer to as, “the man maker.” On Saturday, Sept. 21, Francis Howell Central’s cross country team competed at Sioux Passage, and, through the course of the 5k race, surmounted man maker — twice. 

The days preceding the race consist of physical and mental checks, with an emphasis on the latter. Runners of former years shed light on their encounter with “man maker,” instilling an equal sense of fearful reverence and anxious anticipation into the hearts of the athletes. 

Sophomore Abbie Vester battled the famous hills in the preceding year and at the past race, leaving with a refreshed understanding of its geography and with a personal record two minutes shorter than before. However, the atmosphere anticipating the starting line was less than triumphant.

“Everybody was really scared,” Vester said, reminiscing. “On the bus, we just tried to think positive and make sure that we didn’t let the course beat us before we got to actually run it.”

Discouragement amongst teammates spreads like germs on a petri dish, inspiring colonies of self-doubt and depreciation. Coach Michelle Breuer is familiar with this contagion and is a strong advocate in the maintenance of a positive outlook, as it affects personal performance more than the runners may realize.

“Going into the meet, I felt like some of us were worried because it is the toughest course they’re going to run,” Coach Breuer said. 

Although the magnitude of the incline was great, the downhill was equally as steep, which gave the racers a chance to build momentum and finish with a kick. 

“They get to finish on a downhill. I think that’s what we’re trying to focus with them is that [the hills] go up, they have to come down,” Breuer explained.

Pullquote Photo

“They get to finish on a downhill. I think that’s what we’re trying to focus with them is that [the hills] go up, they have to come down””

— Ethan Hamilton

Junior Ethan Hamilton ran the varsity boys race for the third time this year, and he used much of his past experience to stride the downs and pace the ups. Proud of his team’s performance, he gave insight on a strategy he and others used while racing.

“Whenever we see each other or we’re running next to each other, we just get some motivation… Just run with whoever you’re with and try to pull them with you,” Hamilton said.

This was one of many strategic takeaways from the event. Overall, the team left with a more encompassing experience that they can take with them for the rest of the season, if not the rest of their athletic journeys.