Oct. 31, 2014
In his typically unreliable fashion, Drew Beck is unable to complete his important duties as team blogger this week. Fortunately for him, he’s got a team of brothers willing to pick up his slack when he’s feeling down. Unfortunately for you, that means you’re stuck with my senseless ramblings instead of Drew waxing poetic about his usual nonsense.
If I’ve learned anything over my past four years at USMA running cross country, it’s what young Drew is experiencing right now: my boys have got my back.
There’s nothing easy about being a cadet, nor is there anything easy about the 8K race. There are battles that every one of us has to go at alone. Ultimately, no one is going to take my tests, lead a platoon or run the course for me. But there is some consolation in knowing that I’ve got a team of guys preparing me as best they can. Tom Girardot and Alex Duffy are willing to step up and be my squad leaders when I’m pulling a last-second MS300 brief. Mitch Dutton is (sometimes grudgingly) willing to give me a professional haircut the night before an inspection. Trevor Lafontaine and Matt Bearden are always keeping the pace legitimate so that I’m not slacking. Peter Hetzel and Patrick Ferguson inspire me every day with their more-than-just-friendship. The team is around to pull me through when I think I’m struggling, and I can turn around and help one of them out when they’re having an off day. We’re always making sure that the bad guys don’t get us down.
Our team’s performances this season have been all about the collective. The scoring members of a team are the first seven runners across the finish line. In our five meets so far, we have had no fewer than 11 different individuals fill those spots. The “spread” of a team is the difference in time between the first finisher and the fifth – we’ve averaged a 47-second spread all season. These statistics are metrics for how deep a program is, but more importantly to me, they reflect the fact that there are men on the team who are ready to step up when I falter, as I would do the same for them. Everyone is doing what they can, with what they have, where they are.
This is no surprise, as we’ve been through a lot together over the years. We’ve run thousands of miles in the dark, in the cold, in the rain and sometimes even in good weather. We’ve done our time as delinquents in the Corps, and served a collective couple hundred of hours together that we’re not very proud of. Corn bagels will never be viewed the same. We came together after a tragic car accident. We visited Cody Barger in the hospital when he nearly died from pneumonia plebe year. We’ve celebrated enough Taylor Swift Tuesdays, and our bond may as well be permanently marked. Little did we realize that it would all be good in the end.
Thanks to the men of Army cross country for one hell of a ride these past couple of years. This extends to all of the alums who guided me through the first years at the academy, even to those who haven’t been to Ranger school yet, as well as to the underclassmen who are still teaching me about commitment, consistency and sacrifice every day.
So as we gear up for this weekend’s Patriot League Championships, I’m confident that the men on the line with me have got my back. The devil is in the details, and that the hay is in the barn, or something like that.