Path to the Podium: Midtown Girls, by Andy Christie
Looking at State Results is interesting enough, for us fans of high school cross country. However, finding out what it took for teams to reach that point makes those places and point totals that much more fascinating.
Making the podium (top 4) as a team and earning a State trophy is the goal for many teams when they start preparing for XC after Track ends. Whether it is the thrill of a program making it for the first time, the pride of keeping a tradition alive, or the exhilaration of a return to the top after an absence, climbing the stairs to the podium is the dream of harriers hoping to end their season on a high note.
We've asked coaches to reflect on what it took to get their team to the podium at the 2021 Georgia State Cross Country Meet. Next up is Coach Jeff Cramer, who tells us what it took to get his Midtown Girls team to their 3rd place finish in Class 5A.
Both of these girls started the summer feeling very tired, perhaps over trained. We took it slow with them and allowed them to dictate the mileage and pace.
Sierra Pape ran with us as an 8th grader last year and entered as a freshman with her friend Cate Barton. They both showed early strength and enthusiasm, as did Cary Schroeder (10th) who did not run last year, but came in ready to run after a good track season. We hold daily workouts for those who are in town and can get out of bed. Attendance was fairly good, but unpredictable.
Sierra, Cate and Cary joined Emilia (11th) in a very tight training group that turned into a very tight racing group. They worked very well as a team, in daily practice and finished within a few seconds of each other at state and MOC.
Jamie did not run the first few meets as she slowly regained endurance strength and confidence. She lined up for the Wingfoot in mid September and ran her fastest time ever (19:18). Her times continued to drop as she ran only 4 races during the season, with a best time of 18:31 at region 6AAAAA, and 4th place overall at state. Emilia tested positive for COVID the Friday before Wingfoot and did not run in a race for three weeks. When she returned to competition she had trouble with breathing and did not regain her previous form until the Meet of Champions (20:06). Cate Barton played elite club soccer and only ran 3 races. We had our best results when she was in the mix.
This team embraced the pack running concept better than any previous team I have coached. They loved being together both outside of training, in training and in races. Jamie provided positive leadership and the other girls really worked hard to try to keep up with her pace setting.
We attended the MOC with the expectation that the whole team would be able to match up with the other top teams in the state. We finished 2nd, but were somewhat disappointed that many of the other invited schools did not enter full teams.
Our goal in each race was to exceed the Milesplit prediction. We were able to do that any week we had a full team.