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Larson brings speed and inspiration

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Sept. 10 at Wellington Sept. 15 at Buhler Sept. 22at Lake Afton

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Freshman Elise Larson participates in a team huddle on Sept. 3 at the J.K. Goldwater Classic. Photo by Cale Minear

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When beginning high school, the main goal for incoming athletes is to excel over the years. However, some come in as athletes who have already matured in their sport. That is what freshman Elise Larson is doing on the cross country team this year. “I had just moved to Kansas my seventh grade year and I wanted to meet new people [through cross country],” Larson said. The adjustment from middle school to high school cross-country is a big one. Eighth graders run one and a half miles in middle school while high school girls run two and a half miles. To prepare for the transition, the coaches have worked hard with the runners. “We have done a lot of aerobic training,” Larson said. “We try to get an aerobic foundation for endurance.” Cross-country is not only tough for freshmen physically, but also socially. Larson believes that the cross country upperclassmen have been very welcoming to her and fellow freshmen. “They are so nice,” Larson said. “One day my mom was a few minutes late picking me up and five people asked if I needed a ride. They are welcoming and encouraging.” The upperclassmen have also appreciated the addition of Larson to the team. “She is very positive,” junior Brandon Fahsholtz said. “She gives great motivation and advice on how to improve our form.” During races, Larson like to try to take her mind off the race and focus on other things like music and her faith. One of Larson’s favorite musicians is Christian artist Toby Mac. Larson’s faith is the root of her inspiration in crosscountry and life. “[I find inspiration] not only through my teammates, but also through my faith,” Larson said. “Often times when I run, I pray for my family and stuff going on.” Head coach Max Hamblin sees Larson’s faith in her actions towards her teammates. “She is encouraging to all the runners,” head coach Max Hamblin said. “[She] seems to be a very good person all around.” Larson stands out on her team through her faith and speed. In the first two weeks of practice, Larson has proven to be one of the two fastest runners on the team. Her competition is senior Kathryn Sill. “[Elise] and Kathryn Sill are the two best runners,” Fahsholtz said. “They compete against each other.” Larson does not see Sill as competition, but as a companion while running. “One person that really pushes me is Kathryn Sill,” Larson said. “We encourage each other. She is a really good friend.” Larson and Sill’s friendship is a unique bond that they can share in the race. Although Larson is an underclassmen, it does not effect her chances of competing on varsity. “This sport is where the best run varsity,” Hamblin said. “There is no seniority or even coach influence.” In cross country, the best seven runners for each gender run in the varsity races, the rest race in the junior varsity races. Even though Larson is at the top of her game, she still strives to improve. “I try to put more effort into each practice and keep my goals in mind,” Larson said. “I am very goal-oriented.” With goals comes a game strategy. Larson believes there is a strategy to cross country. “There is definitely a strategy for running,” Larson said. “Just holding a pace and trying to get faster the second mile. The last half mile you basically bolt it.”

Sept. 9 2011


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