Writer and Photographer / Keeley Miller
A circle of runners, each clutching a jug of milk and one goal — to be the fastest chugger.
Every summer, the HSE cross country team travels to Brown County for an intensive week of training. But between miles of trail running in sweltering heat, the team finds another test to put their bodies through — the annual milk chug competition.
The team nominates a member or two from each grade level to compete in the challenge. Each athlete has to drink a half gallon of 2% milk as fast as they can and be able to keep it down afterward for two minutes, but holding it down is a whole challenge in itself.
This year, sophomore Nicolas Epperson beat the competition with a time of 1:33, an attempt to surpass the record of 32 seconds.
“One of my friends told me I should do it, so I thought I would try. I thought that it was going to be a full gallon, but when I learned that it was only a half gallon, I was in,” said Epperson. “Right at the beginning, my stomach was like ‘ugh, I don’t really want to do this.’ But after that, I just felt good.”
The milk chug competition began about seven years ago and has been HSE Cross Country tradition ever since. The current record, 32 seconds, was set by Bryce Miller in 2013. He competed in the challenge each year of high school, shattering the previous record during his freshman year.
“I didn’t volunteer to do the milk chug during my freshman year. Another kid was supposed to do it. He backed out, and I was the only other one willing to do it,” said Miller. “I was pretty nervous to do it for the first time, and my only goal was to not get last. I didn’t think that I would beat the upperclassmen, so I was definitely shocked when it happened. People kept talking about it, and it was really exciting to be noticed by the seniors I looked up to.”
The whole team gathers around a picnic table to watch the milk chug, cheering on the competitors.
“It felt good to win, but it also felt bad because I knew I was going to be sick, and that it was going to be hard the new few days,” said Epperson. “But overall, I felt pretty good. I didn’t expect to win.”
Epperson plans to participate in the challenge throughout his high school career, hoping to win for the next two years. But winning isn’t everything for him; he is really just in it for the fun.
“I might practice a bit over the summer and do some training for next year,” said Epperson. “If I could give advice to anyone doing a milk challenge, I would say just have fun. It is definitely a team bonding thing, and I will continue to do it.”