Path to the Podium: Union County Girls Place 4th in 2A

Path to the Podium-Union County Girls

What exactly did it take for a team to arrive at the moment where they are standing on the podium, clutching their prized trophy? In this article, Union County coach Paige Dyer details the journey her girls took to their 4th place finish in Class AA.

XC 2022

Any seniors that set a good example or laid the foundation?
In 2022 we only had 1 Senior girl on the Varsity team but had a couple of Juniors that were returning for the Senior season (2023) in Ellie Adams and Natalie Payne.

Any good or bad results that motivated the team?
Last year (2022) we placed 5th at State and didn't lose any of our top 5 ladies so the team knew they could do well and hopefully finish better and make the podium.

Winter 2022

Anyone that stepped up their training with XC already in mind?
Most of our cross country runners run track so they really don't get much time in between these two seasons.

Track 2023

Did anyone have a breakout season, or were there new additions that changed the outlook of XC?
New additions would be Clara Kazmierzak coming out for our first ever middle school track program and Lola Hunter foregoing soccer to continue to run track as a Freshman.

Any setbacks/challenges that had to be overcome?
Challenges:  fast paces (ie sprinting) and differences in pacing. 

Summer 2023

Any new additions that changed the outlook for XC?
We had 2 new Freshmen girls and they did well for their first high school year.  One of the Freshmen came in 6th for us at state.

What were the early goals for the season?
Early on the girls put it out that they were going to aim for the Podium.  

How did summer training go for the team?
Over the summer we had "optional" practices that saw most of the girls faithful to show up.

Any setbacks/challenges that had to be overcome?
Main challenge was just setting aside time and making running a priority with so much going on.  

Season 2023

Did anyone have a breakout season that changed the outlook for the team?
Hannah Kazmierzak who came in 3rd on our team really stepped up her speed and got much closer to our 2nd girl which helped us tighten our pack.

How did early results compare to the team goals?
Our early results showed us that we were right on track for where we wanted and needed to be.

Did the team revise any goals?
We didn't need to revise our goals but just keep the target in sight for each race and where we should be placement and time wise.

Any setbacks/challenges that had to be overcome?
We had one top 5 girl that dealt with an ankle injury and then ended up pretty sick near the end of the season which led to other girls having to step up and fill in that position time wise.

In hindsight, what are the key moments of the season that led to the State result? 
We had a couple of early big meets (North Hall and Unicoi) that showed the girls their potential and what they were capable of.  So that was encouraging to keep training hard and working together.