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At Washington, running is oftentimes seen as more of a punishment to be dreaded rather than an activity to be enjoyed. The staple PE mile, for example, is widely seen as a way to torture American high school students. Senior Ryan Rani, Washington High School’s Athlete of the Month, flips this notion on its head: “The run itself feels dreadful at the beginning, but it just feels nice when you’re doing it with friends,” he says. Ryan views his runs not as punishments, but as opportunities to better himself and have fun.
Unlike most runners on the varsity cross country team who have always been known as the “fast” kids, Ryan came into cross country as a freshman with a 27 minute 3 mile, the average time for a high schooler, but has since then brought his times down to well under 18 minutes, a pace faster than what most students can do for half a mile. Mr. Vose, the head coach for both Washington’s cross country and track and field teams, has been proud of Ryan’s progression. “Logging in miles over the summer when nobody was looking has really [played] a big part in him becoming a much better runner than he’s ever been before,” he said. Ryan’s experience has also allowed him to connect with runners better as a leader on the cross country team.
In part due to his experience at all levels of running, Ryan is an established leader of the team, oftentimes guiding runners through warmups and being asked by younger athletes for advice. Evan Alexander, a freshman cross country runner, says Ryan’s mentorship helps him perform better. “He’s always very encouraging of all other runners,” he says. “[Ryan] has a lot of team spirit and pushes everyone to go harder.” Ryan says, “When I see someone doing something I did that I can see won’t work out I’d advise them to change their plans to help them progress in the most efficient way.
As a junior and senior, Ryan has been consistently ranked at the top of Washington’s varsity runners, even being first place for Washington in a recent race. Ryan uses his exceeding endurance to keep pace with competition and then pass them by the end. “For the last half mile I felt that I could push it,” Ryan says, describing a recent trace. Then, “I took the lead and held on to it until the finish.” Ryan has trained his endurance by doing runs as long as 13 miles over his weekends
Ryan does not have any plans set in stone to run in college, but isn’t opposed to the idea, “If I get the opportunity to run in college I would love to.” College cross country races are often ten kilometers, providing Ryan the opportunity to use his endurance to his advantage.
Ryan shows that with hard work and dedication, anyone can achieve their goals and help others achieve theirs. With unprecedented improvement in cross country running, Ryan also shows that it’s good to broaden your horizons because for all you know, the activity you dread will become your greatest talent.