There’s no greater danger than playing it safe. Recovering from injuries and competing against nationally-ranked runners, Park Tudor’s cross-country team was in for a challenge, and placing in the top five in the state would require all of their time and effort.
On Saturday morning, Oct. 30 in Terre Haute, Sophia Kennedy and Gretchen Farley tore up the muddy Lavern Gibson course at the girls’ cross-country state championship. It was Kennedy’s third race at the state championship and Farley’s second.
Dealing with a stress reaction in her Achilles tendon early in the season, Kennedy had to alter her training routine. “I had to take three weeks off and cross train two times a day,” said Kennedy. “I was waking up at 5:30 in the morning and getting on the elliptical.” Her recovery also included multiple doctor appointments per week.
“If I were to run on it anymore, it could get significantly worse.” However, this did not deter her as the State Finals approached.
After her slow and steady return to running, she went into the race “pretty nervous.” “The state meet is it… I want to come out of the race with no regrets,” Kennedy recalled thinking before the race.
Happy with her third place finish, Kennedy aims to earn a state championship or runner-up title for her senior season next year and to break 17:00.
As for Farley, who juggled a double-sport season, the junior also has much to celebrate with her fourth place finish.
Last year, Farley dealt with back-to-back state championships in cross-country and soccer. This year, she was able to focus her full attention toward running due to the earlier end to the soccer season. “I was able to rest my legs, which I hadn’t really done all season,” Farley said. “I was feeling fresh and mentally fresh as well.”
Going into the race, she was “really excited to compete against some really great runners, some of the best in the country.”
“After the race, that ‘after-the-race’ feeling is the best feeling ever. You just accomplished it. You ran three miles and finishing in the top five is just an amazing feeling,” Farley said. “It feels like the hard work has paid off.”
Farley’s goals for next year include going to State as a team. Individually, she hopes to reach the low 17:00s.
As the spring season approaches, both juniors will start preparing for the track and field season and continue training for next year’s senior season in cross-country.