Central cross-country bucks the past, picks captains

Seniors Alex Krysl, left, and Abigail Bird, right, were selected as the first team captains for Cheyenne Central's cross-country team in coach Rick Bishop's 20-plus year coaching career.

CHEYENNE – Alex Krysl came to the Cheyenne Central cross-country team trying to stay in shape for basketball season.

Abigail Bird realized early on she wasn’t cut out to play volleyball for the Lady Indians and might be better off finding a new sport.

The duo that stumbled into cross-country are now leading the team. Literally.

For the first time in coach Rick Bishop’s 20-year tenure coaching the Indians, Central will have team captains for the boys and girls squads. Krysl will be captain of the boys while Bird is in charge of the girls.

“It’s really just a thing I did to stay in shape for basketball and the ultimate Frisbee that we play, I was really into that. It’s kind of surprising how far I’ve come as a runner,” Krysl says.

“I’m not even the fastest kid on the team now but it was an honor to be selected just because of the amazing leaders that came before me and brought me along and made me into a runner.”

In 2011, Bird finished 31st as an individual at the Class 4A girls meet. Krysl did not compete at state last year.

Both runners are pillars of what the sport can do for an athlete simply looking to make themselves better.

“These are two dynamic kids and they just stick out so much from the rest of the crowd. They are leaders and they will lead,” Bishop said.

The moment Bird became captain, she began trying to recruit others to join the team. A group of sprinters from the track team are now competing with the cross-country squad.

Bird knows they’re just trying to stay in shape for the indoor and outdoor track seasons but it doesn’t mean they can’t help Central win in the fall.

“A lot of kids are out here just to get in shape for their other sports. If you run enough, anyone can become a distance runner,” Bird said.

Both runners have accepted their leadership roles in different ways. Krysl is much more vocal and will use his voice to make an impact. Bird plans to use her example on the course and in practice as a leadership tool.

But each of them hopes the younger runners joining the team will see their passion for running and find the same kind of fervor.

“We’ve got a lot of young  bucks on this squad. I’m trying to do my best to kind of lead them along and hopefully they’ll come to love running as much as I do,” Krysl said.

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