Cross country pays tribute to Borderline, Woolsey fire at meets

Starting on Nov. 8, many Thousand Oaks families had to evacuate their homes due to the Woolsey fire. The coaches of the WHS cross country teams gave runners a choice as to whether or not they would attend their meet the next morning, but despite a majority of the team being evacuated, many students still attended. Both the girls and boys team had their own way of dealing with the tragedies.

The girls cross country team wrote “T.O. Strong” on their legs to raise awareness about the Borderline shooting and Woolsey fire in Thousand Oaks. At their next meet, they wrote “805 Strong” on their legs.

“For the race, we wanted to show awareness since there were schools that weren’t coming from [the fire],” said girls varsity runner Sydney Covington ‘22. “I knew that it was a hard time for a lot of people in our community … I wanted us as a team to be able to band together and work together to get through it.”

When other teams who attended the meets found out what was happening in Thousand Oaks, they offered their support to the local cross country teams.

“We were receiving letters from other teams asking if we were okay from the fires and the shooting,” said girls varsity runner Ashley Gonzalez ‘20. “I think that’s when we realized that cross country is really like a team sport, not only within our team but other teams around [too].

The boys cross country team posed for a photo with the teams from NPHS and Thousand Oaks High School, bridging the usual competition between the teams. The photo was posted on social media.

“We wanted to be more unified and, instead of just being individual teams, we wanted to be one team for a second,” said Owen Kobett ‘21. “We were all affected by the fire and the shooting, so we all kind of had a similar experience, so we were like well are we really so different? … And for the rest of the time, even at finals and at state, we supported each other … I think that made us more united as a community.”