Puyallup: Sports

Rogers cross country wins second consecutive academic state title

The Rogers High cross country boys and girls teams live by a simple philosophy — put in the full effort.

That philosophy isn’t just meant for what Rams runners put forth at their meets, but what they attempt to accomplish in life.

“We’re all dedicate ourselves in the offseason. We all talk about it with each other and hold each other accountable,” Aidan Smith said. “If you’re getting a bad grade, you better get it up or there’s going to be (team) consequences for you. We all help each other out.”

For Rogers cross country, that means full effort both on the track and in the classroom. And that effort led the Rams boys cross country team to their second consecutive academic state championship after the 2015 team posted a 3.964 grade point average.

“Winning this award really means a lot to these kids,” coach Ken Zentz said. “It takes a lot of effort to be a student-athlete, and (with us) we try to emphasize the student aspect just as much … they take a lot of pride in winning this award.”

For runners such as Colin Mayes and Scott Maxa, this is a welcomed accomplishment after a tough cross country season. It shows hard work on the track and in the classroom can pay off.

“If we have time before practice, every guy on the team is pulling out their books or their homework,” Maxa said. “All it took was one person to do that before we all were. The more people who got good grades, the more of us could run.”

Soccer players by trade, the cross country season was meant to be a for Mayes and Maxa to stay in shape physically, but in the end, it was the mind that was melded into something Maxa hopes can continue once he steps on to Rogers’ soccer pitch.

“It’s a very different feeling than soccer,” Maxa added. “It’s just a different feeling, maybe because they’re different sports, but it seems to be a strong focus for Rogers cross country.”

But for Smith and junior Tyler Ward, this championship is just continuing a positive trend as both Rams runners have been a part of three consecutive state academic championships.

“It’s a lot of time management, especially when I’m doing sports. When I’m doing all my homework, it’s a lot of long nights,” Smith said. “You really have to know how to manage your time.”

Both Smith and Ward were a part of Rogers boys cross country’s back-to-back academic state championship (2014-2015), but they were also a part of the Rams boys track and field academic state championship last spring, making this their third consecutive academic state title.

But to achieve such a high feat requires a lot of motivation on the task at hand.

“It just trying to focus on whatever I’m doing right at that moment. When I’m on the track, I’m just focusing on my running,” Ward said. “When I’m at home, (I’m) just spending my time to do my homework and having time to spend with my family.”

The effort it requires for each individual student is hard enough alone. But for athletes, the difficulty is finding enough time to squeeze everything in.

“It is hard work but it’s just focusing on the moment and not worrying about anything,” Ward admitted.