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Reflections on EHS cross country

POSTED: October 24, 2012 1:00 a.m.

Ellsworth’s Laura Rankin rounds a turn at the Oct. 11 Lakeside Invitational Cross Country meet in Downs.

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Editor’s note: I usually ask for season-ending thoughts from the coaches. Eric Coonrod, the cross country coach of the Ellsworth Bearcats, returned some great observations that space did not allow for in the Oct. 25 edition of the I-R.

                I hope that you enjoy them as much as I did. ~ MMc

By Eric Coonrod

Laura Rankin had a breakout season.  She had some of her fastest career times week after week.  That culminated in a PR (personal record) time of 17:33 on the Southeast course — a course that she would tell you is her least favorite course — until maybe this year.  She finished 25th out of 63 runners — surprising given her time, but this was one of those crazy years where there was a whole host of kids running in the 15 and 16 minute time frame. This was a fast regional.  

But, an NCAA rival from Sacred Heart, Tracie Thiebault, who has been beating Laura by 20-30 seconds all season finished only one second in front of Laura Saturday.

Laura really turned up the heat for this meet, and probably has only touched the surface of where she’ll be next year.  She is a great example of what hard work in the offseason can produce during the regular season, and she will no doubt be even stronger next year, and will be a great influence on up and coming team members.  With a few more girls running, we can get back to the team scoring.

Nelson Cook finished 42nd out of 80 runners, with a PR time of 20:26.  His overall goal for the season was to get under 20 minutes.  While he was a few seconds off that mark, he had a remarkable season.  After his first meet at Concordia, he wasn’t too sure about this distance running — he was more accustomed to sprints.  However, he really stepped up to the challenge, and continually improved his PR time week after week.  Given how much he learned and how much stronger he will be next year, I look for him to be a weekly contender for a medal, and to be a great example to his fellow teammates about the value of hard work day after day.

Dodge Ellegood ran a PR time of 22:10, a great way to end his first season.  He finished 66th out of 80 runners in a very tough race for sure for a freshman.  This was one of his strongest first miles of the season, so he was pretty amped up and maintained a great pace throughout the race.  This was a great learning experience— we talked before the race about the need for a strong start so you wouldn’t end up getting boxed in or run over. All the EHS runners did exactly what they needed with this.  There was a lot to learn this season as well, and while there is still more to work on, he continued to get stronger week after week.

Aubrey finished 62nd out of 63 runners with a time of 26:16. She was still not 100 percent health-wise, and continued to struggle in the second mile of her race.  Her first mile was stronger this week, and her last 400 meters was strong as well.  I am just as proud of the way she finished her season as I am with the rest of the team as well. Where some kids might have thrown in the towel as they struggled, Aubrey kept plugging away to still try to improve and overcome.  The latter part of the season didn’t go as she’d hoped, but for the most part kept a positive attitude, which is a great measure of the type of person she truly is.

These kids are examples of how great a sport cross country is. While we’re racing against other kids from other schools, we’re also able to measure our success by the gains we make week to week.  Maybe we improved our time, maybe that kid that beat us by 20 seconds last week is behind us by 10 seconds this week. Many sports don’t lend themselves to this kind of recognition of individual accomplishment like cross country does, and as individuals see themselves improve, ultimately the whole team improves.


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