fall Sports Preview 2019: Girls Cross Country
Anna Kinasewitz | Sports Writer
|09/21||Centerville Saturday Nights Invitational|
|09/28||Fairmont Firebird Cross Country Invitational|
|11/02||OHSAA State Championship|
Last season Lakota East shocked the Mason Comets girls cross country team when they captured the Greater Miami Conference championship and prevented the Comets from winning a ninth straight conference title.
The Comets want to regain the top spot but according to senior Maddie Ullom reclaiming the title is going to take a lot of hard work. Ullom, who currently ranks as one of the top runners in the GMC, believes the whole team realizes that it’s going to take a group effort in order for the team to stand atop the podium at the conclusion of the season.
I think we can definitely compete against anyone, we just need to work togetherKennedy Rader
“Our competition is going to be very tough this year,” Ullom said. “I think getting our pack together is something we need to do because East runs really tight. We get spread out and that’s something we need to work on. So pulling everyone along, no matter what place in the ranking they are, is important. As Coach (Chip) Dobson likes to say, ‘A rising tide raises all ships.’”
Even though last year was Ullom’s first season on the cross country team, she distinguished herself as one of the league’s top runners.
So far, she’s off to a great start turning in one of the league’s top times in the early stages of the season. Ullom’s early season success has her pushing herself even harder which has given her a different perspective on leading the team on and off the course.
“It’s definitely a weird feeling to be out in front but I have to continue to push myself because that can ultimately help the team at the end,” Ullom said. “Some girls are pressured by how fierce the competition is, so learning to relax and making sure we stay as a pack is huge. That’s done by motivating each other because running really is a mental game.”
On September 7th, the Comets will host their home meet, the always challenging Mason Invite. Breakout sophomore Kennedy Rader, who currently holds a top ten GMC time, said the team has had its calendar marked for the meet.
“The Mason Invite is really important,” Rader said. “A ton of good teams come and it’s a large meet overall. It’s our home meet too, so we want to perform and run well.”
Rader said it took a lot of preparation and determination to become the only Mason underclassman near the top of the conference.
“Last year I was around 14th on the team and at the end of the season I thought, ‘okay next year I really want to make it to state, I’m going to work really hard,’” Rader said. “So over the summer, before we started practicing again, I ran a lot more distance, like 45 miles a week. It feels really nice to see my hard work pay off because this is not what I expected at all.”
Rader also said the team views reigning GMC champs, Lakota East, as the team to beat.
“I think we can definitely compete against anyone, we just need to work together,” Rader said. “We have a very split group. So, it’s Maddie and then this huge space and then a few of us are spread throughout the rest of the lead group. We need to score lower points. That’s how (Lakota) East works, they have a super tight group right at the front so while they may not have the top runner, they have a solid core right up at the front few.“
Like Rader, the entire Mason Girls Cross Country team has worked tirelessly in pursuit of success this fall.
Rader said the offseason training has contributed to their early bright spots.
“We’ve been training all year round,” Rader said. “Dobson’s philosophy is, the more miles the better. Other schools might focus on working speed, but mileage is big when we train.”
With it being her Senior year, Ullom said she has been able to reflect on the importance of this season and the meaning it holds to everyone in the program.
“For most seniors it’s their last year running,” Ullom said. “I plan to run in college, but it’s my last year running with this with this group of girls. Like every year, this team is unique to this season only. As a group we’ve focused on working more towards team goals, rather than individual. This season is really special and I think everyone feels that way.”
Photo by Chronicle Staff.