Uphill Battle

This year, the girls’ cross country team is small, but they have much bigger goals.

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Uphill Battle

Varsity girls take off at the Little Hawk Invitational meet

Varsity girls take off at the Little Hawk Invitational meet

Innes Hicsasmaz

Varsity girls take off at the Little Hawk Invitational meet

Innes Hicsasmaz

Innes Hicsasmaz

Varsity girls take off at the Little Hawk Invitational meet

Innes Hicsasmaz, Sports Editor

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The junior varsity team won the Little Hawk Invitational meet on September 18th, with Celeste Chadwick ‘17 winning the race with a time of 16:30, and freshman Bridget Brown right behind with a time of 17:19. Jones ran her first race with the varsity pack at the beginning of September, but she was one of the many runners knocked out by a virus spread widely throughout the team.

“After IMS, I just started feeling sick,” Brown said “I started coughing a lot, and it gradually got worse, so I had to miss the next two meets. It took a while to get over, but it’s pretty much gone now.”

Izzy Shutt '16 keeps the pace at the Little Hawk Invitational

Innes Hicsasmaz
Izzy Shutt ’16 keeps the pace at the Little Hawk Invitational

Despite being set back by her illness, Brown set a personal record the next time she ran. Even though girls like Jones are recovering and easing back into running, many runners are still out due to long-term injuries. Aminata Traore ‘16 has been forced to sit out a second season due to multiple leg injuries. Traore missed last season due to a broken knee. This year, she suffers from a stress injury in her opposite leg.

“My left leg was too weak, so my right leg was doing all the work,” Traore explained. “[Missing two seasons in a row] sucks. I ran in the summer and I was putting in the work, and I really felt like I was getting better.”

Even with girls out with illnesses and injuries, this year’s team is unusually small and young, with only three four-year seniors returning to varsity. Small senior and freshman classes have kept the team under the usual number of runners. While small numbers is a disadvantage from a rankings standpoint, head coach Tom Mittman sees it as an opportunity for the team to form closer bonds.

Megan Plock '15 crosses the finish line

Innes Hicsasmaz
Megan Plock ’15 crosses the finish line

“One of my main goals is to have great team unity by the end of the season,” Mittman said. “I want the girls to see that their friends can be beyond their closer friends, I want them to reach out, and we’ve done some things to improve that.”

The team has been working hard to prove themselves among larger teams, and a team-wide goal is to improve their 10th-place finish at state last year.

“Everyone’s improving their times,” team captain Molly Shepard ’15 said. “And with freshmen and sophomores stepping up on varsity means they’re learning experience, and they’re gonna be around longer, so the team will continue to be good.”

The varsity team placed third at the Little Hawk Invitational, just behind Southeast Polk and Bettendorf. Returning varsity runner Mary Arch ‘17 placed first with a time of 15:12.

“I’m really blessed to get this opportunity again because not everyone can get to do this, not everyone can run every year,” Arch said. “My goal this season is to compete harder than I did last year and embrace the pain more.”
On being one of the younger members of varsity, Arch doesn’t find it strange.

Claire Kelly '18 pushes up a hill at the Little Hawk Invitational

Innes Hicsasmaz
Claire Kelly ’18 pushes up a hill at the Little Hawk Invitational

“It doesn’t really matter to me because the team is so welcoming, it doesn’t feel any different how old you are,” Arch explained. “It’s good because there’s a lot of growth that’s happening, I can tell all the time. I can tell there’s going to be a lot of progress.”

“The only negative effect is that we have girls lacking experience being pressed into running varsity, which comes with some pressure,” Coach Mittman added. “The good news is that they’ve dealt with it very well and they never cease to amaze me at how well they’ve adapted.They’ve really adopted our program’s emphasis on every person counts.”