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Liberty Cross Country Runners Persist in States and Nike Cross

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Liberty Cross Country Runners Persist in States and Nike Cross

Ellie Okonak and Kate Sullenberger

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The girls Cross Country team at OLHS competed at the rescheduled States Cross Country Championship this past Saturday, Nov. 11 at National Trails Raceway and placed 10 out of 20 teams. The day after, most of them went on to compete at Nike Cross Regionals (NXR) Midwest in Terre Haute, Ind. The team placed 17 out of 28 teams.

The season of preparation and dedication that began in May with summer mileage ended here with these races for most varsity athletes. The closing weeks of the season raise new questions to mind and present new opportunities for next year.

The delay for states was a relatively short notice, and came just two days before the athletes were scheduled to race. It was delayed due to, Columbus, OH receiving almost 3 inches of rain on the original race day. Cross country races are outside and often include areas that can potentially dangerous when muddy, such as winding turns in the woods, steep hills and abrupt corners.

According to ohsaa.org, “The Ohio High School Athletic Association has postponed Saturday’s state cross country tournament and is moving the championships to Saturday, Nov. 10, due to flooding conditions on the course at National Trail Raceway.”

The postponed date for the race disrupted the training schedules for all the teams and individuals racing. Plans had to be completely changed in order to adequately prepare the runners for the race.

“It was challenging to prepare because we normally taper our mileage for the state meet – and we were doing that until they moved the meet back less than 48 hours before the race,” says Coach Dewese, the head coach for the team. “So we had to crank back up the mileage and training a little to keep the athletes in top shape.”

Even after the states meet was postponed a week, and the course eventually readjusted twice, there were still challenges working against the runners during the race that Saturday.

“One of the problems was mud… [which] caused the course to be slippery. Another problem was all the competitors in the race. If one of us got stuck in a group of runners, we couldn’t move up and get points for our team,” explains Lauren Woodruff ‘21, one of the runners on the varsity team.

After talking with Coach Dewese, the runners came up with a couple strategies in order to lower their times and places as much as possible.

“Our solution to both of these problems was to try to stick to the outside of the course. There, we wouldn’t get stuck between groups and less people would’ve run over the area, making it a little less muddy and giving us better grip,” says Woodruff.

Immediately following the race, varsity runners drove straight to Terre Haute, Ind. for Nike Cross the next afternoon. They arrived late, around 9 p.m., and woke up the next morning to run, less than 24 hours following the states meet.  Many athletes that raced in both found that they had not fully recovered since the day before.

“The first and second miles were very tough because I could feel the soreness from the day before in my legs,” says Linnea Kunesh 20’, a runner on the varsity team for both States and Nike Cross.

Without question, the crazy weekend of two races in two days was completely unexpected and very challenging. However, the team raced with unwavering determination both days, despite all the excuses they could’ve used to justify not running their hardest.

Kunesh reflects on that weekend, saying, “It’s one more thing that I checked off my list to say, yeah, I just did that. I realized that when you’re put in an uncomfortable situation you learn to adapt and find the strength you didn’t know you had!”

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About the Writers
Ellie Okonak, Staff Writer

Ellie is a 10th grader at Liberty High School. She runs on the school cross country and track teams. This is Ellie's first year writing for the Patriot...

Kate Sullenberger, Writer

Kate Sullenberger is a sophomore at OLHS. Her interest for journalism sparked in 8th grade when she was involved in her school video news production class....

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