Cross country returns to Friday Harbor

By Maria Magana-Navarro, Journal intern.

Run, run, run on terrain that is… natural? Who would have guessed that at Friday Harbor High School a new sport was in the creation, cross country.

For those who are not familiar with the sport, cross country is a sport where teams or individuals compete on outdoor courses over natural terrain. These races can take place on open country, fields, parks, golf lands, etc. Cross country is an endurance-based sport as competitors have to run long distances over varying terrains.

While it seems out of the blue that a new sport is starting up, would you have known that many many years ago, cross country was actually played at the high school?

Although there aren’t many records on the school’s involvement in cross country, a quick dive into the yearbooks reveals the lost history.

According to FHHS yearbooks, the first cross-country team in the high school started way back in the ’60s. A lot earlier to contrary belief.

Rod Turnbull, Friday Harbor High School’s ex-athletic director and now middle school principal mentioned in his 21 years he’s never seen a cross-country team at the school. However, he did bring up how his late father, Dean Turnbull, coached cross country at the school many years ago. Looking back to the yearbooks it’s evident that cross country was practiced up until the 80s, where after that, its momentum deteriorated. In past years, according to Turnbull, many tried to revive the sport, but to no avail. Since the 80’s there hasn’t been a proper cross-country team at the high school. That is… till this year.

Cross country is back and is being led by FHHS Spanish teacher, Albert Turbow as its head coach.

Turnbow’s experience as a coach began in 1983 when he coached track and field for years. From there, he branched out to coaching cross country. “I started a Cross-country program at a school I taught in Guatemala. We created a league of schools that included several orphanages. It began as a fundraising 5K race that morphed into a High school/Junior high cross-country team.”

For the Wolverines, it’s apparent their biggest challenge will be accumulating their skills and assimilating into a foreign sport at the school. “The challenge I see for this season is that we have no experience and we will be learning from every meet we enter. We have some very talented runners but we are very young and inexperienced.”

Currently, the team consists of nine players. The members consist of two seniors, two sophomores, two freshmen, and three 8th graders. Although the team is small, the young Wolverines are full of passion and a drive for hard work. Each player is putting in the work to keep this sport alive from the older athletes to the younger ones. “Noah Rovente is a senior with great talent and a very strong work ethic.”

As of right now, cross-country aims to expand its team and compete in the Northwest League with a schedule consisting of all off-island games.

“All of the kids are working very hard and have set some lofty goals. “I see great potential here on the island of kids who like to run and like to compete.”