KnightsBlog: Gabrielle Rayner

Nov. 6, 2015

Follow along with the Knights during the 2015 season as members of the cross country and track & field teams give insight on their experiences through the KnightsBlog.

Nov. 6, 2015
By Gabrielle Rayner

Endure was the word of at the American Athletic Conference Cross Country Championships and probably the rest of this season, or so Coach Gray told us as we sat down for a pre-meet chat. We had endured months of early morning practices running tons of miles all in preparation for the conference meet this past weekend, and we were ready. We ended the chat biting back laughter as a serious speech morphed into a bit of a funhouse with many hotel characters walking in and out of our powwow getting a small taste of the very motivational speech from our fearless leader. Nonetheless, everyone in the room (Knight or not) got the gist, we came to North Carolina to give it all we got and that's exactly what we did.

Racing in a Division I conference championship is intimidating to say the least, especially for a freshman. But I felt overwhelming support from the coaches and trainers to just go out there and run! We all toed the line with the mindset to endure, and after the race we found ourselves with a bus-full of personal best's, healthy legs, and the experience we needed to take us to the next level for NCAA regionals.

I look back at the start of the season, and I'm amazed by not only my progress but the progress of the team as a whole. I know the race was tough but this group of girls knows how to endure! I look forward to the regional meet and know that we are all more than ready.

Oct. 21, 2015
By Amy Ankli

This past weekend was the last meet of the regular season and it was our first 6k. The team dealt with a few setbacks during the race, but for the most part, it gave everyone a chance to feel out the distance we will be running at conference, which is just over a week away! I feel like the season just started, so the fact that it is drawing to a close blows my mind. I'm excited to go to North Carolina and see how our young team fares after a season that has had its fair share of ups and downs.

As a senior, I can't say that I am feeling overly sentimental [yet] about this being my last year, but that will probably change when spring rolls around. For now, I am trying to enjoy every workout Coach Gray hands us, even if it is twenty 400's. Four years of waking up at the crack of dawn and pounding away on the track has taught me to cherish this valuable time I have with my team. Coach Gray has continuously referred to this season as a building year and even though I will be gone next year, I have treasured watching my teammates grow this fall.

Oct. 5, 2015
By Ashton McMurray

Cooler weather and long travels make for an excited cross country team. The journey to Tallahassee was the longest that we had taken so far this season. The course is probably one of the nicest ones we will race on all year - not that I am biased because I am from Tallahassee and this was my hometown course. The competition at the meet was larger than most other races we had gone to so far and the weather was cooler, making it great conditions for some fast times.

We were missing Laura, who is one of our top five, but we didn't let that hold us back, if anything it pushed us harder. We knew we all needed to step up to fill the gap and that is just what we did. We had three girls place in the top thirteen spots, setting the stage for a solid score. Overall we placed fourth as a team and had an extraordinary day. I think everyone pushed their hardest and we all came out of the race happy and excited for our next races to come.

Sept. 29, 2015
By Claire Castillo

If you were to ever ask Coach Johnny Gray for a pre-race pep talk you are definitely in for a treat. Not only are his speeches motivational and get the team ready to run, but they also rhyme…most of the time.

So with Coach Gray's poetic words still resonating in our minds, we walked up to the starting line at the FL Runners Invitational knowing that we had a job to do.

The journey to Titusville was not a long drive from UCF, and it was a very familiar one for me as a Titusville High School alumna. The FL Runners course with the right conditions is smooth with very few hills, and firm grass fields. A majority of the team was very pleased with their times, and especially placing. We finished with all five scoring runners in the top 10, ultimately landing the Knights with an overall team finish of first place.

Although we celebrate our victory, we still continue to put in work at practice. Training leading up to the race was no walk in the park either. With a repeat Mile Monday and a rigorous set of repeat quarters on Tuesday, we all had tired legs by the middle of the week. But by the time race day came, we were all prepared.

So the next time that I find myself pushing through a tough set of repeat 400s, all I have to do is listen for J. Gray and his motivational bars.

Sept. 21, 2015
By Holly Wooley

Grit is: Courage and resolve, strength of character.

The grit of each and every girl was put to the test this weekend at the Mountain Dew Invitational. What was supposed to be a dry, fast course ended up being a wet, muddy and slow. Each and every one of us had to make a choice: dig deep and give our best or go through the motions. I am proud to say that we showed grit. No one quit when the going got tough.

We faced our toughest test when we came to a soggy, uphill climb. I kept reminding myself that I had trained all summer long for this moment and that I had to push past the fatigue and pain. Even though it was not the race that I had anticipated, it was a great mental workout.

I am extremely proud of my teammates. After all, we placed sixth overall in less than ideal conditions, and we are running even better than we were last year. These ladies have grit and they do a tremendous job of showing it during practice, in the weight room, and on the course. Charge on!

Sept. 14, 2015
By Kalleigh Forrester

A wise person once said "If you don't give it up, you don't have to make it up." This thought goes through my head with most obstacles in my life, but where it is used the most is with running.

While it takes physical ability, running is a mental game. It is easy to psych yourself out before the race even starts and that is a challenge every runner had to face this weekend. Nerves were running throughout everyone's body just like normal, but with some of us - like me - more pressure was added because it was a home meet. Family and friends came to support so while all of us were nervous, at the same time, having people there for us pumped us up and gave us extra adrenaline.

As a team my fellow Knights were ready to defeat any team that came in our way. We were ready to take the win, especially since it was our home course. Unfortunately we placed second, but that didn't hurt our confidence because our team is stronger than ever. This season we will work harder and run faster to achieve a goal that we all strive for -- to become champions.

Sept. 9, 2015
By Amy Ankli

There are few things that can stop a distance runner in their tracks. One of those things would have to be lightning and there was plenty of that at our season opener. The first meet is always full of nerves and expectations, our first opportunity to prove how much work we put in over the summer. However, this year when the gun went off there was an added obstacle - avoid getting struck by lightning. While the flashing sky and rumbling thunder did provide a uniquely ominous race experience it was decided after the inevitable downpour that the race was too dangerous. We were pulled from the course after about a mile and half.

While the short 'race' was a disappointing way to start the season I think the team still benefited a lot from it. We drove all the way to Tampa (basically to eat a meal) and we prepared ourselves for the rest of the season. We may not have completed a full 5K but the pre-race nerves, adrenaline spikes when the gun went off, and navigating through the first mile were still fully intact. Plus, what says team bonding more than screaming in fear for your life in the middle of a thunderstorm?