Melissa Jachim, senior
Q: What things are you most excited about for this season? "I’m honestly just glad that I get a chance to keep running with my teammates and that we will have opportunities to compete because none of that was guaranteed. I wasn’t ready for my junior cross country season to be my last year so I’m glad it is still happening even if it’ll be a little different than other years."
Q: How would you evaluate the 2019 state meet? "I think I did well at the state meet and I am happy about my time, but I really just wish I could’ve passed one more person to be in the top 25. I definitely learned that every person I pass matters, and to always keep pushing till the race is over because it can make such a huge difference. I also learned that you are never guaranteed a second chance."
Q: What were the challenges during this particular off-season? "I don’t like running alone for long periods of time. It’s relaxing when I run alone for a day, but after months of it I get a little bored and it feels harder. When the team started meeting together again it was a relief."
Q: What did the team do to help keep its training goals despite not being together? "During the summer we organized small groups that gradually grew as we went along the phases for Illinois. We made sure to always follow the set guidelines. I think doing this helped the younger members of the group understand what they were supposed to do and I also think it helped make practice more productive because it held people accountable to doing all the workouts."
Q: How do you anticipate the team dynamic to be compared with the 2019 season? "Our varsity team has a lot of returning runners, and the new additions to our team we have hung around a lot so the team dynamic of us all being friends and having fun will be the same, along with our seriousness about racing and our will to get better and push ourselves."
Q: As a senior, how do you hope the help the team from a leadership standpoint? "I hope that I can lead my team through times of uncertainty and to pump up the team for the smaller meets because it will be harder to race when the environment is not as energetic as we were used to last year. I want to encourage everyone to have a good season regardless."
Q: Any goals for this season? "I really want to PR (achieve a Personal Record), but I got my PR in the past seasons on the state course, which I don’t think we will run on this year. This makes it a little difficult to compare but I still want to try to improve my time."
Annie Bieda, senior
Q: What things are you most excited about for this season? "I’m super excited to even be practicing, especially with the circumstances of other sports due to COVID-19. This season, I look forward to surpassing my times from last year on several different courses. Last year I sat in the 19:12-19:17 zone for several important meets, and I am super excited to attempt breaking 19:00 in the 3 mile."
Q: What are the strengths of the team? "As a team, I think we have a lot going for us. After graduating only one varsity runner (Eva Bednard), we are able to have a team that is more experienced in racing and pacing properly. In my opinion, the freshmen will be able to adapt to this dynamic more easily, which is especially important with the dual meets and their impact on our rankings."
Q: How would you evaluate the 2019 state meet? "Looking back at State Finals 2019, I must say that I was hoping for a bit more of a time drop, but I am happy that I was able to have a 4-second PR (personal record), and a 19-second course PR. I learned at State that as a team, we are extremely capable of setting personal records that contribute towards an improvement in overall 3A ranking. We also learned to support each other through goal setting and determination of which teams we closely match with."
Q: Do you have a 2019 race that you are most proud of? "I am most proud of my race at the Lyons Township Regional course. The previous two weeks I had run 19:16, 19:16. It was misty and drizzly, but I felt really good that day. I began the race among my teammates, who typically are far in front of me. Although they finished ahead of me, I was really proud of my race because I felt strong and well paced throughout. My finishing time was 19:17. While not a PR, this was a poor weather day on an unfamiliar course. It was also super exciting because I had never raced at regionals before. I was also thrilled with my racing consistency, because I had really struggled with that sophomore year."
Q: How did not having any 2020 outdoor track and field season affect your training? "Not having the 2020 track season was really disappointing to me because coming off a great cross country season, I was hoping to set some shiny new PRs, which would help me to determine if running in college would be right for me. In an effort to maintain decent summer training, I continued to run 5-6 days a week during quarantine. I am glad that we have an online running log because it served as a tool for my coaches to see how my training was going, and encouraged me to get running on some chilly days. I am really glad to be running with teammates again, mainly because structured practice helps me with motivation for quality training."
Q: How do you think the altered competition schedule will affect the team? "This new type of schedule will only motivate us to work harder. Every meet counts, so everyone will have more reason to put on their A game each and every meet. I do think it will impact our team bonding, which is really disappointing. It’s really important to me to act as a role model to the freshmen, but that is very tough to do when there is separate training and racing groups/schedules. I also will really miss cheering for the whole team. I appreciate when people have motivating things to say, and I love pushing my teammates to be the best they can be."
Q: What would make this a successful season? "For me, a successful season would stem from victories in races with teams that have always produced better rankings than us. I would love to see us pick up where we left off late in the season last year, as this season will likely consist of less races than other years."
Claire Pyne, sophomore
Q: What are the strengths of the team? "Our team has a lot of fast and strong girls, and the team does a really good job of training hard at practice and pushing each other. I think our biggest strength overall is that our team is so close with each other. We help each other get through the race and achieve our goals. We can always count on each other to give our all at meets."
Q: How have you progressed as a runner since last season? "Since last season, I feel like I have become both physically and mentally stronger. Mentally, I am really starting to understand how to successfully race and how to overcome the obstacles in my mind. As for the physical aspect, I used this spring and summer to focus on improving my speed and building more muscle to help me run, refine parts of my technique, and prevent injuries."
Q: How would you evaluate the 2019 state meet? "My race at the state meet was my best of the season and a PR for me. Although the race did not go as I planned, which focused around me trying to tail off of a teammate, I didn’t panic and just continued to run and push myself. I had a strong finish at state and learned that I can’t be afraid to go out fast. My teammates and I gained some confidence having a state meet under our belts, and we also walked away with a strong desire to get faster and improve our ranking for the next year."
Q: How did not having any 2020 outdoor track and field season affect your training? "Not having a track and field season was tough, especially since I felt like I was starting to show improvement. However, I tried to find the silver lining of the situation, which was that I would have a lot more time to build a base for myself and prepare for the upcoming cross country season. I think the cancellation of the 2020 track season (in mid-March) actually motivated me and my teammates to work harder so that our cross country season would make up for our lost track races. Overall, not having a 2020 track and field season, despite its disappointments, worked out well for me because I was able to use the drive I had in track and transfer it over to my summer training."
Q: What did the team do to help keep its training goals despite not being together? "When we were unable to run together, we would communicate virtually to talk about our training and what we thought the upcoming season would look like. We tried to help keep each other accountable, and were mainly able to do this just because of the close bond we have and how we didn’t want to let ourselves or our teammates down."
Q: How do you anticipate the team dynamic to be compared with the 2019 season? "Last year, our team was really close, and this year, we’ve only gotten closer. Even though we lost some of our senior runners in the spring, we’ve gained a group of hard-working and talented freshmen who have put in the miles despite not having an in-person summer running camp. Due to the postponement of some fall sports, we’ve also gained some additional runners who have decided to try something new and join the team. With all the oddities of this year, our team has formed a strong bond, and we’re very eager to give it our all this season and prove ourselves to other teams. I predict many of us will have some of our best seasons yet, and our team will be able to showcase our improvement."
Q: Any goals this season? "Team-wise, we think we have a chance at winning the conference meet, so our main goal is to build up during the season and hopefully win or place high in the conference. Personally, I’m hoping to get a personal best in the 3 mile. A successful season for me would mean improving my racing abilities and achieving my goal times."
Ava Geiger, sophomore
Q: What things are you most excited about for this season? "I am most excited to see all the improvements we have made as a team since last year."
Q: What are the strengths of the team? "One big strength for our team is always being able to support each other."
Q: How would you evaluate the 2019 state meet? "I was very proud of myself after the 2019 state meet. I went into the race with a goal. That goal was to break 18:20 (min) and I ended up finishing the race with a time of 18:04 (min). I also think our team did an awesome job. We continued to push one another all year to get to state and we continued that all the way through the finish line."
Q: Do you have a 2019 race that you are most proud of? "I am most proud of the 2019 Twilight Meet (Oct. 9 at Naperville North) because I went into the meet with a goal to break 19:00. I finished with a time of 18:24."
Q: What were the challenges during this particular off-season? "A common challenge I faced during this off-season was to stay motivated. It was hard to stay motivated because no one knew if we were going to have a season at all, let alone participating in a race. I was able to overcome this by imagining what I would want to happen when or if we were able to race, and to be prepared for any unexpected meets."
Q: How did not having any 2020 outdoor track and field season affect your training? "Not having a 2020 track and field season affected me by teaching me to push myself and not rely on anyone else to push me."
Q: Do you and your teammates feel fortunate to have a cross country season? "Yes. There are so many people who aren’t able to have a season right now and even if they do have a season there are many other sports that are unable to have their season."
Q: How do you think the altered competition schedule will affect the team? "I think the shortened and altered competition will help us as a team push ourselves at every meet and not just try and reach our limits at bigger and more important meets such as state."
Q: Any goals for the season? "Individually my goal is to break 18:00, Team-wise I would love to see us win the conference meet."