Gilbert leading by example on the course


By Lance Catchings

Senior cross country runner Walker Gilbert has been a part of the program going on six years. When you dedicate yourself to something for that long you get an idea of what your role is in the program and Gilbert wants to be a leader.

“As a senior I have been trying to be a leader and leave a lasting impact on our team because this is it,” Gilbert said.

“Some of my friends and I have been together since seventh grade running cross country and we just want to leave our legacy for the new up and coming runners for our school.”

Gilbert has always loved running and it remains true to this day. He never knew he would be a six-year veteran of the cross country program, it just seemed to happen that way.

“I have run in this program since the seventh grade and I love it,” he said. “Growing up going through elementary and intermediate I always remember having track day. We would get to run, and I always enjoyed it. It was something I liked to do, and I ended up being pretty good at it, so it grew on me.”

This season, the Liberty Hill cross country teams have gotten off to a solid start. Gilbert is happy about what he has seen so far, but believes they can continue to push themselves even further.

“We have done pretty well in our meets so far this season,” he said. “There is always room for improvement, but we have some good young guys coming on. I think our team will be strong this year and we hope to get back to the state meet.”

This Saturday, Gilbert and his teammates will be running at the annual Liberty Hill Cross Country Meet. Each year, the meet draws almost 1,000 runners to compete at a course at Liberty Hill Junior High.

“It is an amazing feeling to run in front of your hometown at your home meet,” he said.

“You get to see all the people you go to school with and they come out and support you. For it to be the last time and the last hoorah for the seniors it should be fun. This is the last time, so I am leaving it all out on the course. It has an impact on my thought process and how I get ready for it.”

It is no secret that running in general is a constant battle between what the mind wants to do and what the body wants to do. In cross country, mental toughness can make or break a season.

“The majority of the sport is made from mental toughness and strength,” he said.

“You have to be a little crazy to get up as early as we do and go run for fun. Being mentally strong helps you push during races and at practice. It is crucial to being a successful cross country runner.”

Part of being a leader for Gilbert is embracing and teaching the freshmen what the expectations are at LHHS.

“We have really embraced our freshmen this year and have really tried to take them under our wing,” he said. “They have all done a great job and they have brought a lot to our team in youth and in talent. We are looking forward to seeing them improve as the year goes on. When I was a freshman, we had the senior class ahead of us and they took us under their wing. We have tried to do the same thing with the freshmen this year and make sure the legacy is passed on through Liberty Hill each year.”

As Gilbert prepares for his last home meet, his personal goals are to improve and help his team to another championship in the long run.

“I would like to continually improve my time each meet,” he said.

“As a team goal, we would like to win district and ultimately win regional and compete at state. It would be a great ending to my cross country career to go out on top. I think our coaches do a good job of spacing out our workouts and not making them too hard to where we are burnt out by race day. We definitely want to be peaking towards the end of the season near district, regionals and state time.”