Seniors Sasha Kent and Katie Nicholls have been friends since their first cross country practice four years ago as wide-eyed freshman at Idaho State. As the two young freshmen struggled to keep up with the rest of the team, a lifelong friendship was born.
“We were on the caboose end of the run,” said Nicholls. “I feel like it bonded us.”
In most sports you cannot talk during practice, this is not the case for cross country.
“Running makes you talk about everything.” Kent said.
While the two have pushed each other to the limit on these long runs, they have also built their friendship by talking the ups and downs of life.
“You run together every day, so the stories bind you,” stated Kent.
Although the two shared many stories over the course of their runs, no story binded these two more than the passing of Nicholls’ father.
“Not having him at the finish line was really difficult for me,” Nicholls said. “Everyone on the team knew what I was going through. Everybody was there for me.”
“It happened to Katie, so it’s like it happened to me,” Kent said.
Together, cross country has taught these two how to overcome the adversities they face in everyday life.
“It teaches you to put 100 percent into whatever you’re doing.” said Nicholls. “You’re not always going to have your best race day. But then you ask yourself, ‘how can I improve’? I think that’s very applicable to life.”
The team aspect of cross country is something that cannot be overlooked, although it often is.
The first five runners to finish for ISU make up the total score.
For Nicholls and Kent, their teammates mean more to them than the number on the scoreboard.
“As long as they’re not on the other team, it doesn’t matter who is passing me.” Nicholls said. “You’re not racing for yourself, you’re racing for everybody else on the team.”
Kent attended 1AD2 Richfield High School, 43 miles northeast of Twin Falls, where she was the only member on her cross country team. Nicholls’ high school experience at Centennial High School was a stark contrast, with over 100 members on her team. Kent was one of 12 in her graduating class.
“Before I got here, it was me, myself and I,” said Kent.
During high school Sasha was able to participate in basketball as well, taking the team aspects from that and other activities and applying it to running. Now that she has had an experience with a cross country team, she realizes how special it is.
“Once you’re [at practice] you realize how lucky you are to be there,” Kent said.
Kent and Nicholls have shared plenty of memories together and those memories will not stop happening as the two go their separate ways.
“Running is something we can do for the rest of our lives,” said Kent.
This is unlike many other sports, making the cross country team even more meaningful for those involved.
Heading into the Big Sky Conference Championships this weekend in Cedar City, Utah, Nicholls and Kent look to bring some hardware back to Pocatello.