Athlete of the Issue: Kostia Howard ’20

Kostia Howard ’20 is a captain of the boys cross country team in the fall and track and field team in the spring, a musician, and an accomplished student. He has taken some of the most challenging classes offered while maintaining his dedication to running.

What are the cross country team’s overarching goals this season?
Historically, we have been a pretty successful team. We want to maintain that this year.
[In] the past two years, we’ve been second at Founders and top four at New Englands. The top four teams make the podium, and we believe that is a very achievable goal [again] this year. It would also be nice to dethrone Loomis, who has been the reigning champion for the past couple of years.

How do you keep score in cross country?
The top five runners from [each] school are scored based [on] where they finish in the race. First place gets one point, second place [gets] two points, and so on.
At the end of the race, the scores of the [top] five runners are added up, and the school with the lowest score wins. If there are multiple schools at a race, your score goes against each school individually.
How do you and your teammates train?
Running is a very simple sport, because the only way you can get better at running is by running.
I’ll walk you through a typical week. Mondays are usually Long Slow Distance days. This is usually coming off a race on Saturday, and an off day on Sunday. Monday is the day to shake out your body. The top guys usually go out for about eight miles [at] a relaxed pace, to build up some mileage and get our bodies ready to take on the week. These days are probably the most fun, because you are running slow enough to enjoy the scenery around you.
Tuesdays, we have a running workout. We have also done a solid job at getting guys into the weightroom after running.
Wednesdays, we do cross training. This takes place in the pool, where we swim laps, run in the water, and work on our form. By practicing in the pool, we take the stress of running on solid ground off our legs.
Thursdays are very similar to Tuesdays, and Fridays are pre-meet days, where we run a few miles and just stride out. Saturday is gameday.

After graduating 11 seniors last year, who has stepped up as leaders?
What makes our cross country team great is not our winning record or how many championships we win, it’s the fact that our team welcomes anyone to join. It’s a place for runners who really want to PR (personal record) and succeed in races, but it’s also a place for people who have been cut from other teams or don’t have a fall sport.
All our seniors have stepped up this year and continue to build a team culture that is fun for everyone. [Our team] accommodates new people, teaches them the ropes, and shows them how to have fun in a sport that is honestly a very difficult one to enjoy.

Why do you and your teammates run cross country? What do you enjoy most about it?
Believe it or not, no one actually enjoys the running part of cross country. It is the feeling of euphoria that you get when you finish running that is rewarding. It is a very similar feeling to what you feel after you finish a workout at the gym. When people say they enjoy running, that is what they are talking about.
The other part of why I run cross country is the team dynamic. We have around forty kids on the team this year, and you often find yourself running for the guys next to you. You run for the cross country community. It may seem that cross country is an individual sport, but it is very much a team sport.
This year specifically, I find myself really striving to sustain the great culture we have created here so future Hotchkiss runners can experience it like I have.