Freshman year proves promising for runner Martensen

Abigail Kestle, Sports Editor


Summer is right around the corner, which means opportunities for athletes to train for fall sports are opening up. My predictions on the 2023 fall season led me to have a conversation with cross country coach Rhett Cook and team member Cameron Martensen. 

Martensen competes in both cross country and track. He performed exceptionally well during junior high and managed to place seventh at state for cross country this past Nov. as a freshman, but Martensen hasn’t always been a distance runner,

“I’ve done cross country and track since seventh grade. During quarantine I wanted to stay in shape for soccer, but I realized that I liked running more,” said Martensen.

Although Martensen competes in both cross country and track, he has a preference for cross country.

“I prefer cross country more because most of the courses aren’t flat so you have to be tough to do well,” said Martensen.

This toughness is an adjustment for incoming freshmen because the course distance becomes longer and oftentimes the terrain is more hilly and the quality is more unpredictable.

“It’s tough because we double the distance. They’re starting to slowly get into two miles at the junior high level, but they go from twenty to twenty-five miles a week to thirty, forty miles a week. So it’s a transition that we have to start, like, in June and work all summer,” said Cook, “[Freshmen] hold up pretty good, but you gotta be careful with injuries and things like that to make sure you’re not wearing them out and ranking them down.”

Generally, there are certain training habits that set athletes like Martensen apart from others. 

“One training habit that I do during practice and outside of practice is doing my easy runs really easy,” said Martensen. 

Cross country is not easy on the body. Strategic pacing wasn’t always a part of Martensen’s routine and Missouri weather isn’t very forgiving.

“A memory I have when I first started running was when I was doing a time trial and it was really hot and when I was done I puked,” said Martensen.

Coach Cook holds some core values close when it comes to his team.

“The work ethic inside the classroom and outside; making sure I tell them all the time we’re a student first, athlete second. Respect like sportsmanship, respect for others. And kind of everybody just wants to go out and run thirty to forty miles a week, so I try to keep it fun, lighten up a little bit, try to do different events. [The team] at least looks forward to things like that,” said Cook.

Martensen ended our conversation with a last bit of advice for incoming freshmen and anyone else interested in joining cross country.

“Cross country is tough but you will meet a lot of new people and have a lot of fun,” said Martensen. “Have fun running and don’t go too fast on your easy runs.”