They stood at the start of the Hancock Invitational, waiting for the biggest race of the year to begin.
They were joking about how sharp their new spikes were in their shoes.
They laughed about how badly someone could hurt themselves if they were in the wrong place at the wrong time. Little did they know that that’s exactly what would happen.
Matt Schwab was that very person they joked about getting injured.
“After the gun sounded everybody started up the hill in a big mob,” Junior Nick Happe, the wearer of the shoe-turned-weapon, said. “I was on the right side of the hill and Schwab was on the left. He tried to cut behind me and in my stride I hit him in the shin.”
Schwab didn’t even notice the wound, which is about six inches long, until he had finished the race.
“I had no idea that it happened,” Schwab said. “I guess there was just too much adrenaline pumping.”
The meet took place on Sept. 22. This year was the first time North’s cross-country team had participated in the meet in the last ten years.
“The competition was so fierce and only the best go to that meet,” Assistant coach Brooke Roe said.
Happe described Hancock as a “mini state,” meaning there were a lot of good runners from about 15 different schools.
“Before Hancock we hadn’t seen as much competition,” Happe said. “But when I got to the mile marker there were still quite a few people running with me. There were so many good teams.”
Despite having an injured leg, Schwab managed to hang in there and finish second with a time of 16:20. Fourteen seconds after Schwab finished,
Happe crossed the finish line, placing fourth. Senior Nate Shipley finished 13th, dropping four places from his previous finish on Sept. 15.
On the Friday before the Hancock Invitational, the girls’ cross-country team ran at the Hazelwood West Invitational. Most of the varsity girls are sophomores and for some it is their first year on varsity. Dianna Prost finished 14th, followed by Kayla Noble and Erin Martin at 22nd and 26th.
“The course was pretty easy overall, except for the mole holes all over the place,” Noble said. “A girl that was in first place dislocated her hip on one of them.”
On Sept. 29 the cross-country team participated in the Parkway West Invitational at McNair Park. Schwab placed second, followed by Happe at third.
“McNair is a pretty mediocre course,” Happe said. “It has some hills, buts it’s not bad overall. It’s right in between easy and hard.”
State is only a month away and Happe says that these next few meets coming up are the ones that count.
“We are supposed to be running our best around this time,” Happe said. “We have to start to peak now and get ready for State.”