On Oct. 26, Shorter’s cross country teams took the course Saturday morning to compete in the Gulf South Conference Championships. Despite being able to bring home any awards, Shorter’s runners still made an impact.
In the men’s 8k race, the Hawks’ Jordan Cross, who was announced athlete of the month in October, turned in the best time of 25 minutes and 32.93 seconds to become the men’s unofficial winner.
Not only did this result from hard work and dedication, but also from Cross’ strong faith and trust in God.
The day before the race, while performing their usual warm-ups, Cross was experiencing sharp pains in his right quad and had the fear that he wouldn’t be able to run in the race the following day. After noticing how excrutiating the pain was, he began to pray for God to let him run. Cross said that not only would the absence of him running affect himself, but also his teammates.
“We only have five distance runners, and that’s what it takes to score,” Cross said, “and if I wasn’t out, there was no way we would have a team score.”
About 15 minutes before starting, Cross realized he wouldn’t be showing faith if he didn’t at least try and prepare himself for possibly running.
“I’m not really showing any faith by asking the Lord to fix me,” said Cross. “It would be like the farmer planting a field and asking the Lord for rain, but not really preparing the field.”
Shortly after making this acknowledgement, track coach Scott Byrd asked why Cross appeared to be warming up with his teammates for the race.
“I asked him, ‘what are you warming up for,’ and he said, ‘well, I wanted to warm up with the team, and when we go out there, to just encourage them,’” said Byrd.
But as the conversation continued, Byrd said Cross tried to convince him that he felt better and could run.
“After several minutes of conversation, and him promising me that he wasn’t in pain like he was the night before, we devised a little plan,” said Byrd.
This plan consisted of Cross giving him his watch so he couldn’t run any faster than what Byrd wanted him to run. They also devised hand signals, so at every mile, if Byrd thought he was in pain then he would give the signal for Cross to come out of the race. The only other stipulation was that he could not sprint, so Cross’ race was based entirely on endurance.
Byrd said that Cross ran the race very “concincely”- but he did run it.
“He didn’t have to sprint, and we were very fortunate and blessed that there was no injury in the race,” said Byrd, “and he is ready to run here next week for the national championship.”
Byrd stated that the team’s faith is the core thread of who they are as a group.
“What we want them to do is to just run to the best of their ability and remember that most importantly, they are running for something bigger than themselves— their Savior,” said Byrd.
And by Cross’ faith and trust in God, he prepared his field on that track, and knew that as he lept with both feet from the start, God would provide the “rain,” or strength, he needed for his victory.