The Student News Site of Center Grove High School


The Student News Site of Center Grove High School


The Student News Site of Center Grove High School


CG girls’ cross country aims to win first sectional title since 2019

Karleigh Barlow
Junior Diana Hodges strides at the home stretch of the Trojans’ Eagle Classic, contributing to the Trojans’ 9th place finish in the meet.
Bella LeMasters and Alana Riley

This Saturday, the girls cross country team begins their postseason run at Shelbyville for sectionals and is gearing up for the upcoming challenge.

“At the beginning of the season, we made a poster board of goals, and I think keeping in mind these goals really helps us keep each other accountable,” senior Allison Cohen said. “It helps us push through the rest of the season, finish strong and stay positive.”

The team started their practices last summer and bonded at cross country camp in a state park in July. Marissa Pogue said events like that built a rapport that serves the team as they head into the postseason.

“Our team has formed a really strong relationship and friendship between everyone. We have always been there to help support one another as well as push each other to become better through our workouts,” Pogue said. “I think that these relationships formed will help us stick together during the race and will help everyone push each other and feed off of one another’s energy.”

Some athletes, like Pogue, have individual pre-race rituals or superstitions that help them get into the right mindset before a race.

“I always make sure to wear the same hoops and necklace every time because I feel like since I did well wearing them in the last meet, if I wear them again then I should do just as good as last time,” Pogue said. “Basically I like to keep everything the same across all meets. I feel like if I change one small detail then it could mess with the whole race.”

Cohen and her team utilized unique training routines or techniques her team used to prepare for this specific course and competition.

“Specifically, we placed a lot of emphasis on recovery, making sure our bodies are well rested and healed, so that we can race to our fullest potential,” Cohen said.

Girls cross country head coach Wes Dodson said that in addition to hydration, the team would be tapering their mileage to prepare for sectionals.

“We’ll still run hard, but we won’t run quite as far,” Dodson said. “The goal is to run your best at the end of the year. You build your miles up so that you are getting a lot better, so that by the end of the year you’ve built your strength up. At the end you lessen the load. They’re going to be really strong and a little bit faster because they haven’t run quite as far that week.”

Cohen said the team places emphasis on race strategy, which could be as simple as staying with a pack or challenging yourself to stay up with a teammate.

“Race strategy is everything,” Cohen said. “I think that’s what makes cross country so exciting to watch. You can see the minute strategies that people employ. All the [strategies] together are super important to running a good race, and running in Shelbyville, unfortunately, is flat, there are no hills, and hills give us an advantage with our style.”

Understanding the influence of weather on cross country races, the team and junior Hallie Mimbela are prepared to adapt their strategy to varying weather conditions. Currently, the weather for the race is cool and cloudy.

“We’ve practiced in every type of condition imaginable, so we feel that we’re always prepared for any type of weather situation.”

Drawing on past race experiences, Mimbela said the team has gained valuable insights. These lessons are being applied to optimize performance in the sectional race, ensuring that they learn from their past and make strategic improvements. Mimbela is currently ranked No. 70 in the state for the junior class.

“I’ve learned not to go out too fast, and instead go out at a good pace and move up during the race,” Mimbela said. “Finish fast and strong because it’s the perfect time to pass other runners before the finish.”

Those lessons have come from the team running very competitive races, according to Dodson. . 

“Hopefully, they are used to running those races,” Dodson said. “We ran the State Preview, County [Championship] and the Brown County Invitational, lots of high pressure races, so, hopefully, when we get to another one it’s not too much to bear. In reality, the big thing is it’s exciting to get to a huge race because it gives you that opportunity to show what you got.”

Winning or performing well in the sectional race holds personal and collective meaning for each athlete and the team as a whole. 

“My high school career hasn’t been linear. It’s been very unique to me, and winning this sectionals meet would be a very big deal to me,” Cohen said. “It would just be incredible to show how much we have worked as a team and how much I have worked personally to hit these goals to maintain my health and the bigger picture.”

Mimbela said winning sectionals would be a big pay off.

“Winning sectionals would definitely make me feel like my hard work has paid off and I would feel really pumped,” Mimbela said. “It would make our team as a whole feel very confident for the next races to come.”

The sectional race holds its own significance, but the team remains mindful of the bigger picture.

“I think that the team understands that while it is important that we perform well at sectionals, it’s not the end all if we don’t,” Pogue said. “We simply need to place top five in the team placements to advance onto regionals, which we all are aware that we are fully capable of doing even when not at our best. We keep our eye on the bigger picture by reminding ourselves that we have been training for the opportunity to run at state all season, and that sectionals and regionals serve the purpose of showing all of the time and effort we have put into our sport.”

Leave a Comment
More to Discover

Comments (0)

All Trojaneer Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *