Generally, high school is a series of twists and turns that may leave students feeling hopeless; with essays, study guides, and exams around every corner, there is a very real need for stress relief. While some may wind down with a box of donuts from Johnny-O’s and their favorite Netflix show on loop (no judgement, of course), others turn towards a more active means of de-stressing. Meet sophomore Isabella Perez, a leading member of Logan High’s girls varsity cross country team.
After only two years of the sport, Perez has become one of two girls to represent Logan High’s cross country team at the state level this season. Her passion and dedication to the sport has been described as unprecedented and special, qualities of a particularly driven athlete.
“What I like in cross country is the feeling of being accomplished,” Perez said. “While you’re running, you know you can push yourself and feel your body be pushed as it never has been before. It makes you feel strong.”
“Isabella is a hard working athlete who will never give up. She is always striving to be her best self in everything she does."
Perez was largely inspired by her older brother Johnny, a fierce competitor who had competed for Logan High in both cross country and track and field. Now, Perez’s brother is her main supporter.
“Johnny has been the biggest inspiration for me,” Perez said of her brother. “He knows what it’s like to run, and he has always been front and center at my races. And when he isn’t there, he’s the first person I call to tell about my races.”
Perez also cites her coaches as important supporters.
“We even call one of our coaches, Chazel, mom, and another coach, Todd, uncle,” Perez laughed. “Coach Strand is so much like our friend. He is one of us. He is one of the kids and such a great adult role model at the same time. He has always been there for us.”
While many believe that cross-country is merely running, Perez explains that it’s much more complex: not only do cross-country athletes have to develop a high level of endurance for long-distance running, but they must accompany that with strict, good form. The team works out together three days a week (Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays), emphasizing core strength, long-distance runs and sprints.
“I’ve learned how to push myself to the point where I can’t push anymore,” Perez said.
“Isabella is a hard working athlete who will never give up,” teammate Ben Anderson said of Perez. “She is always striving to be her best self in everything she does. Besides that, she is a great friend to everyone and is an overall great person.”
Ultimately, Perez believes that her experience doing cross-country extends beyond merely a love to run.
“Cross country is more than just being on a team. It’s like a big family,” Perez explains. “We are more than just teammates and will always be more than just any other team. There are so many people on the team that give me so much support and inspiration. I have been so grateful to have friends like Ben Anderson, Jasmine Braner, Dallin McRae, Maddie Rosenauer, Kalin Freeman, Ian Bressel… there are too many to name!”
In the future, Perez plans to study law at the University of Utah and join the university’s cross-country or track team, hoping it will open scholarship opportunities to further her academic career. However, even if she doesn’t make the team, she believes that her passion for running is too great to discourage her.
“[Running is] something I can’t just stop, because I would miss it too much,” Perez explained. “It’ll always be a part of me.”