It can difficult enough to thrive in a new school.
Try walking into a brand-new school for the first time and being expected to lead a team.
East Forsyth junior Alex Arrambide has been asked to do just that, as the team’s fastest cross country runner.
Arrambide acknowledged that it hasn’t been easy transitioning into a leadership role.
“I knew that this was going to be the year that I have to step up because there are no seniors,” Arrambide said. “I had to take the initiative. I’ve also had trouble doing that because I’ve never had to do that before. This is my first experience leading a team, and I’m obviously not going to be an amazing leader my first year.”
Arrambide is the definition of a hard worker. He works out outside of practice, he is often his biggest critic and he is never satisfied with his results.
“I didn’t have the greatest start to the season,” Arrambide admitted. “I wasn’t really hitting the times I wanted to hit, but it is just a couple races into the season and we’ve had some tough courses. I still have faith in myself. Just focus on the training, trust the process, and everything’s going to get better.”
It did get better – rather quickly.
After finishing fourth in the team’s first meet at the Pickens Preview, Arrambide won the North Hall invitational with a time of 16:27.50. That was 17 seconds faster than the second-place finisher.
Early on in the race, Arrambide knew he was going to leave his mark in the school’s history.
“Right after the first mile, when I got up the hill, I don’t want to sound cocky, but I knew I had it in the bag,” Arrambide said. “I went up from the downhill and noticed I was spread out super far. I was maintaining speed. Most people really start slowing down, and I slowed down as well, but it wasn’t as gradual as everyone else. I just knew I had such a huge lead that it was going to be really hard to make up for everyone else.”
Arrambide’s success is something that’s come recently. He didn’t always run cross country.
“I used to play soccer,” Arrambide said. “I decided that soccer wasn’t for me. I wasn’t enjoying it anymore. I dropped all sports for a year in seventh grade. In eighth grade, I wanted to make new friends, so I joined the track team. I joined our high school cross country team because the middle school didn’t have a team. They said I could run up. Those teammates I’ve been with, I’ve been with eighth, ninth, 10th grade. All those kids I went to North with, I had a three-year bond with them.”
A lot of his past teammates have been excellent role models for him and have played a huge role in his growth as a runner.
“Caleb Hall. He runs for Mississippi College,” Arrambide said. “And Josh Schunk. He was also one of the best kids at my old school. He still has the 800 record at our school. He committed to Emmanuel a couple years ago after he graduated in 2019. Those two were the biggest mentors for me as other runners.”
Hall’s impact on Arrambide has continued past their time as teammates. They’re still close to this day.
“When he graduated, he went into the military,” Arrambide said. “He’d always come back and visit me. We’d run races together. He used to be the guy that would lead me on the team, but we’ve really become best friends. He knows so much about running, so it’s really easy to look up to him.”
Arrambide tries to be a leader for the younger runners on the team by leading the way Hall did.
“I’ll give them the same advice that I was given,” Arrambide said. “They reach out to me and ask to go on runs. They always set a certain goal, and I’ll say, ‘Let’s go one more.’ Push them to do a little extra like my old leaders used to do.”
What Arrambide feels separates him is his belief in himself. A combination of his past success and the work he puts in makes him believe the sky's the limit for him.
“I feel a lot more confident in my ability,” Arrambide said. “Ever since last track season when I won two region titles and qualified for state in two events. I didn’t place at state, but I ran pretty good times for a sophomore. I made the qualifying time for the MileSplit US first team for the two-mile. I’ve had a couple silver and gold performances. I have a whole new level of confidence going into races, and it really helps me because I struggle with being nervous. It really affected my races. I feel like I can run comfortably and a lot faster now.”
East Forsyth head coach Amber Beck agrees that Arrambide’s work ethic is one of his biggest strengths.
“He’s a great kid,” Beck said. “He definitely has a passion for running and runs outside of practice. You can just tell he’s dedicated to the sport. Just a great kid, overall.”
Winning one race isn’t enough for Arrambide. He’s aiming for continual improvement, and he knows that starts with every practice.
“My goal is to win a region title,” Arrambide said. “And place state runner-up, or state champion possibly, as the 3A state champion. I want to get under a time of 15:10 for the 5K. That’ll be a really tough goal, but I think if I keep really training and stay focused, and I push it through, I can do it. I believe in myself.”
As the first runner to win a cross country meet in school history, Arrambide has already etched his name into East Forsyth history.
But to him, the job is not finished. He’s going to continue working every day until he’s put East Forsyth on the map.