Path To The Podium: St. Pius X Girls Runner Up in 6A

Video of the 6A girls race which saw the Pius girls finish runner up, but Hannah Schemmel took the individual win.

Path to the Podium: St. Pius Girls

By Andy Christie

Everyone sees the smiling faces when a team is up on the podium at State, but not everyone sees what it took to get there. In this article, we find out from Coach Ryan McClay what it took for the St. Pius girls to place 2nd in Class 6A.

XC 2021

Any seniors that set a good example or laid the foundation?

We had a young team last year, but our senior girls last year led the team in terms of making things a lot of fun for everybody which kept them all motivated

Any results that gave motivation (good or bad)

The team was very motivated since we had the top all class performance at state last year with four girls who broke 20 at state and returned everybody as well as gained another sub 19:00 runner. 

Winter 2021

Anyone that stepped up their training with XC already in mind.

Not really, they focused on having fun and doing well on the track

Mindset of the non-seniors

They weren't sure what to aim for in track, but they weren't looking ahead to XC until track season was done

Any setbacks/challenges that had to be overcome?

Yes. Many. Some that we overcame and some that we didn't. Hannah Schemmel had her injury flare back up and never raced in track season. Grace Von Biberstein was on pace for sub 10:40 and tripped on the last lap and fractured her femur which required surgery. Margot Humphrey also suffered a stress fracture in her hip. Ella Stone had a stress fracture all winter. 

Track 2022

Anyone that had a breakout season, or new additions, that changed the outlook of XC.

This was a tough season for us with injuries, but Lane Boyle really proved to be a strong runner ready for varsity with her performances in the spring. Caroline Koziol also showed some improvement in the spring as a runner as she did her first ever track season.

Anyone that was already expected to contribute, but still had a good season.

Zoe Garcia really ran well, but didn't get much action because she was JV all season.

Any setbacks/challenges that had to be overcome?

See above, unfortunately

Summer 2022

Any new additions that changed the outlook for XC.

No, the nucleus of the team was already in place and we didn't get any varsity freshman girls this year.

Early goals for the season.

The goal was to win state and take a shot at nationals, but injuries derailed them.

How the team handled summer training.

They did a great job and came together as a group, despite the setbacks. They really had a great team camp and you could tell all of the girls loved being together. That's one of my favorite things about this team this year. They have come a long way in the past four years in terms of knowing how to be a team and be great friends too. The seniors really did a good job of making everybody feel welcome and loved.

Any setbacks/challenges that had to be overcome?

 See above...

Season 2022

Anyone that had a breakout season that changed the outlook.

I think Jessica Sheehan and Lane Boyle really stepped up, especially late in the season. We also had a breakout performance in the middle of the season from Mary Perrin Carpenter that we thought could possibly give the girls a chance, even with all of the injuries

How early results compared to any goals.

 I think the girls that raced this season all either met or exceeded their goals. Hannah Schemmel winning the individual title was definitely one of the bright spots on the season given everything she's been through. I was very happy for her to be able to overcome all of her setbacks and finally get that XC State title. 

Any revisions of goals?

Definitely had to revise the goals in an attempt to still win state.

Any setbacks/challenges that had to be overcome?

Injuries to Grace, Margot, and Ella (3 of our top 6, and 2 of our top 3 returners) this fall meant that we didn't quite hit our goal of winning state. Losing Caroline Koziol, who had a very good state meet last year, really stung too.

In hindsight, key moments of the season that led to the State result -

I think the state meet was an amazing experience for me as a coach. I am so proud of how hard these girls fought in that race despite all of the setbacks we had all year. Week to week they never knew who was going to be on the state team but they all kept showing up and working hard to do their best in case they were going to be called upon in November. It turns out, we never got anybody back except Hannah, so they had to race. And it was so impressive how hard they fought on that day, but they were just a little out matched. I feel awful that the girls couldn't achieve the goals they set for themselves because I made mistakes as a coach and couldn't keep them all healthy. That just seems unfair for them to be punished for my mistakes. But I'm so glad I got to witness the resilience from them this year. They never gave up. And had things gone slightly differently, they at least showed they were good enough to accomplish their goals. I'm thrilled with the effort they gave all year and so proud of each of them for their attitudes along the way. And maybe more important was the great attitude we saw from the injured runners this year. I was so impressed with their positive outlook and support for their teammates, despite the hardships they were going through.