After three days to reflect and heal, Menchville's cross country team returned to the Noland Trail Monday morning. It was back to business … but with a heavy heart.

Just last Thursday, on what began as a beautiful morning, the Monarchs were hit by tragedy. Joy Meyer, a 14-year-old rising freshman, collapsed near the end of her run.

Though first responders arrived quickly and the hospital was a short ride away, she never regained consciousness, according to Newport News City Schools spokesperson Michelle Price. Joy was pronounced dead shortly before noon.

Ever since, Menchville has been in grief mode. Head coaches Chris Chappell and Dennis Zollicoffer, in a released statement, described her as "a young lady (who) truly embodied her name." Social media has been active, with condolences on Twitter and a memorial page on Facebook.

"It's really been rough," said Christian Gray, a senior co-captain. "A lot of the runners are taking it really hard. We're all trying to stay together as a team and enjoy the time we had with Joy.

"I got to know her by training through the summer. She had a bright smile and was always positive. She was always ready to get to work and train hard. She was just a great person. She had one of those rare smiles you only see every so often in your lifetime."

Danielle Richard, a classmate of Joy's at Gildersleeve Middle School, started a page on Facebook called "RIP Joy Meyer We Love You." As of Monday afternoon, it had 540 likes.

"Joy made it her goal and way of life to see the best in everyone," Richard said. "She was an amazing person to be around and she provided comfort, laughs and cheer to anyone who needed it. A personality like hers is so rare and outstanding that it was a tragedy to see her go. I know that I will always remember her, and smile every time I do.

"I feel as if Joy was taken from us for a reason. If you were to see a pile of diamonds, you would search for the biggest and brightest one and take it first, right? That's what happened with Joy. Her positive attitude and bright personality made her the top pick to be an angel."

Price said Meyer had recently undergone a VHSL-mandated physical examination. She was cleared for competition without restrictions.

Conditions for Thursday morning's run were ideal, especially for early August. According to The Weather Channel, it was overcast and 73 degrees at 9 a.m., right around the time Meyer collapsed..

Chappell and Zollicoffer have referred all questions to NNPS. According to Gray, the inexperienced runners (like Meyer) were attempting to run four miles Thursday morning. They were encouraged to stop periodically for rest and water, Gray said.

Meyer was near the end of her run when she told a teammate she felt dizzy. Gray had finished his 6-mile run when he realized something was wrong.

"We were getting ready to stretch and we noticed that a lot of our runners weren't back," he said. "We immediately sent for water and tried to see what was happening, and we found out one of our runners had collapsed. The coaches were there and they called an ambulance."

Meyer was transported to Riverside Regional Medical Center, which is less than a mile from where she collapsed.

"Our coaches did everything they could, everything in their power," Gray said. "Everyone did everything they could that day."

The healing process continues. Monday morning, Joy's parents, Ray and Kim, joined the team at Noland Trail for a half-mile walk in their daughter's honor. Already, there has been discussions on how to keep her memory alive.

Chappell has ordered several purple wrist bands inscribed with the words "We Run With Joy." Richard is selling a memorial T-shirt that has Joy's picture and the words "Find Joy in the Ordinary." Any profits, she said, will go to the Meyer family.

"I have some ideas about stuff we can have on our person while we're running," Gray said. "Like high purple socks, because purple was Joy's favorite color. Something to make sure we take her into every race. We'll always have her in our hearts."

A mass will be celebrated at Immaculate Conception Catholic Church at 10 a.m. Thursday. Burial will follow at Parklawn Memorial Park.