Photo Courtesy of Ryan Pickell's Facebook.
The cross country team competed in the Great Lakes Challenge on Oct. 24, 2015. Photo courtesy of Megan McDonald's Facebook.
The cross country team competed in the Great Lakes Challenge on Oct. 24, 2015. Photo courtesy of Megan McDonald’s Facebook.

BY GABBY JOSEPH, Staff Columnist

From competing in the Disney Cross ­Country Classic to attending camp together over the summer, the men and women’s cross country teams at the University of Michigan­-Dearborn have a lot of memories from this season that they’ll hold forever sacred.

Not only do the teams have meets, summer camps and practices to remember from this season, they have the friendships they’ve made that will last a lifetime. Sophomore Ryan Pickell is already excited for next season to begin to make new memories.

“I look forward to seeing the team again next year, including meeting the new recruits,” Pickell said. “We have a few opportunities in the off-season where we see everyone together, but it’s really great being able to see everyone on a daily basis during the season. They’re honestly an amazing group to be around.”

The two teams spend a lot of time together. They do everything from practicing together, traveling together and competing together. They’re one big family. The men and women have both competed in five different meets this season and have done well in each one. They have their last one coming up on Nov. 7 in Grand Rapids, where they’ll compete in the WHAC Championship.

Senior captain Megan McDonald will be running in her last collegiate meet on Saturday. “I’ll definitely miss the team the most, without a doubt,” she said. “These girls are an amazing support system and I am so blessed to have been able to be on a team and run with them.”

She is definitely a proud captain and believes the team accomplished more than just the individual aspect of cross country — they accomplished exactly what it’s like to be a team.

“Whether it’s been breaking out of your comfort zone to get a better time than you ever thought you could, struggling with not doing as well as you wanted to, being closer and relying more on the team or just maturing as an individual, this team has accomplished it this year and I could not be more proud,” she said.

McDonald is one of the most down-to-earth individuals I’ve ever met. She represents exactly what it’s like to be a student athlete. She attends school full-­time, runs cross ­country, is a member of Phi Mu, Alpha Kappa Psi Business Fraternity, Tau Sigma Honor Society, Order of Omega Honor Society, Student Athlete Advisory Committee, Honors Transfer Innovators, and the MFit club all while holding a 3.79 GPA. She will definitely be missed by the team because of her strong leadership skills and her ability to push her teammates to be the best they can be.

Running at the “Happiest Place on Earth” is a memory both Pickell and McDonald will cherish for a very long time. “The most memorable part of the season was definitely racing in the Disney Cross ­Country Classic in Florida and spending the weekend with the team,” Pickell said. “It gave everyone a lot of time to spend together outside of practice.”

“The most memorable part of the season was definitely the Disney trip,” McDonald agreed. “It was so much fun. The team bonded a lot and we all raced very well.”

The cross country team exemplifies exactly what it’s like to be a team. They’ve persevered through the hard times, focused on what they can do to better each other and have matured as individuals; all while having fun. As the saying goes, “We didn’t realize we were making memories, we just knew we were having fun.”