There is no one "team captain" for ASU cross country

With no traditional team captains, ASU cross country spreads the responsibility to multiple runners

The ASU cross country team does not have traditional team captains.

However, the cross country team does have a system of leadership. Redshirt senior John Reniewicki, redshirt senior Chelsey Albertson and junior Samantha Ortega all hold leadership roles on the team. 

Head coach Jeremy Rasmussen feels that having one person take ownership and leadership for the whole group is not fair. He does not want to put all the responsibility all on that person’s shoulders. 

For example, the men’s team had a Maroon and Gold tie that the team captain would wear while traveling. Former team captains passed the tie down to Reniewicki, but after a discussion with Rasmussen, it was decided that every runner would wear the same tie. 

“Every guy has that same tie, so they all understand that it’s a collective effort to continue to lead this group in the direction we need to go, and to continue to foster and develop the culture,” Rasmussen said.

Reniewicki, a leader on the men’s team, values his position. 

“Leading by example is probably the biggest thing, and then obviously the vocal part after that," Reniewicki said. "Just when guys are slugging out a tough work out (I) just really get in there with them, telling them, 'Hang in there,' because whatever they are going to do is going to benefit them later on."

Reniewicki is motivated by the leaders he had early on in his ASU career. They took him under their wings and taught him how improve. 

Reniewicki said that keeping everyone on the same page and ensuring the team is tight-knit are some of the responsibilities he holds as a leader. 

“If stuff comes up, dealing with it (is one of my responsibilities), but at the end of the day just being a friend (is what I try to do),” Reniewicki said. 

The women’s team has taken a different approach by having two runners lead the team. These two women know the role they need to play, and are there for the team when needed. 

Albertson is dedicated to being a role model for the other runners. 

“Leading by example, and also just coming to practice with a great attitude and bringing good energy as much as you can (is what it means to be a leader),” Albertson said. 

Albertson is motivated to be a leader because she is passionate about running and wants the team to love it as much as she does. She tries to be a mentor to her teammates both on and off the course.

She said she finds it very beneficial to share this role with another runner – she does not feel alone in trying to lead the team. 

Albertson wants to see the other runners progress throughout the season. 

“(My responsibilities are to) be supportive of what we’re doing and just try to get the girls to come follow you, and encourage them to do the same,” Albertson said. 

The Sun Devils will compete next in the Mesa Thunderbird Classic on Oct. 7 in Mesa, Arizona.

Reach the reporter at or follow @CCydeni on Twitter.

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