Sophomore and senior race to top two spots in NCS

Hallie Fox

By pushing themselves to the limits everyday both mentally and physically, varsity boys’ cross country co-captains Liam Anderson and Andrew Thomas have trained their way to be the top two runners in NCS Division III.

The duo has found success by motivating each other to achieve more, according to Redwood’s boys’ and girls’ cross country coach Laura Schmitt.

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“You know the quote, ‘Success breeds success?’ When you bring two, three or our whole boys team together and then they each try to get a little bit better within themselves, that just begets success,” Schmitt said. “When you bring successful people together, they are going to become more successful for sure.”

Anderson and Thomas both believe that when a teammate is ahead of the others in practices and meets, it encourages the rest of the team.

“Everyone pushes each other to do better. Having one person running faster, that is going to push everyone else to run faster. In a race, when you see your teammate thirty feet ahead of you, you’re going to look at him and you are going to want to get up [there] with him,” Anderson said.

DOMINATING THE COMPETITION, senior Andrew Thomas (left) and sophomore Liam Anderson (right) have taken the MCAL by storm.
DOMINATING THE COMPETITION, senior Andrew Thomas (left) and sophomore Liam Anderson (right) have taken the MCAL by storm.

Cross country is a mental battle, according to Thomas and having a teammate like Anderson allows Thomas to rest his mind during a race.

“It can be super hard to be the one that is always up front; it gives you a mental break when someone else is up there with you,” Thomas said. “You don’t always have to be the one pushing the team because you have someone else that can do that, too.”

Thomas and Anderson said they are always on the same page when it comes to strategy, leading to seamless communication.

“He brings the same mindset to [running] as I do. We’re co-captains and it’s nice to have the person I am captaining with have the same thoughts as me. There’s no

friction when it comes to making decisions,” Thomas said.

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Anderson appreciates having Thomas on the team because his presence allows him to focus solely on his running.

 

“It’s really nice to have someone to do the thinking for you. It makes it so I don’t have to do as much in terms of the team and in terms of pacing,” Anderson said. “It lets me kind of relax and focus just on the act of running itself.”

Schmitt explained that she teaches her runners to be competitive with each other, while remaining supportive.

“We encourage being competitive in the proper arena. Being competitive and supportive are not mutually exclusive,” Schmitt said. “[Thomas and Anderson are] extraordinarily supportive of each other, while advancing their own abilities.”

Thomas believes that any competitiveness between him and Anderson leads to improvement.

“We are competitive with practice, for workouts and stuff. I would say there is not necessarily a competitive nature between us, but there is definitely a drive to make each person better,” Thomas said.

Now that both runners have emerged as leaders this season, their relationship has changed.

“Last year, I definitely looked up to Andrew, not that I don’t anymore, but I looked up to him [last year] as a mentor more than as a friend,” Anderson said.

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Although cross country is thought of as an individual sport, Thomas believes that being on a team helps improve his individual running.

According to Thomas, the team environment adds to his mental game.

“[Mentality] is one of the hardest parts of the sport, just all the mental wear and tear of having to push yourself all the time,” Thomas said.

Schmitt said that Thomas is an amazing athlete who grows every year, and when Anderson joined the team Thomas’ performance improved even more. She said that they both add to the development of the team through accomplishing their own goals.

“They each take care of themselves, and when they take care of themselves, the team is then taken care of. It’s an incredible process,” Schmitt said.

Schmitt thinks that both Anderson and Thomas offer different skills that they are able to teach one another.

“Liam is young, and Andrew has his experience to give him, and all of the skills you need for good running,” Schmitt said.

Thomas is attracted to cross country for its simple nature.

“[Cross country] is something where if you just put in work every day, you get the results that you want,” Thomas said. “I think we are both drawn to it because of its simplicity. There are no tricks to it; you just run harder or faster or more and you do better.”

Anderson’s running philosophy correlates with Thomas’.

“You get out what you put in,” Anderson said.

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Being on a team helps Thomas and Anderson improve their speed and endurance, but it has also allowed them to become great friends.

When warming up and cooling down, they can almost always be seen laughing together, enjoying each other’s company, and encouraging each other to push themselves just a little bit farther.

For Thomas, this will mark the end of an extremely successful MCAL career.

And for Anderson, this is only the beginning of his bright MCAL future.