|The girls cross country team at the Victory Bell following a win this season.
With the addition of some new faces to the squad as well as some new training techniques, the Western Reserve Academy girls cross country team posted a solid 2012 season.
The year was highlighted by a first-place finish (out of eight teams) at the Sim Earich Invitational, a fifth-place finish (out of 12 teams) at the Avon Lake Invitational and a win in the Pioneers’ only home meet of the season.
“In some ways the season was better than I anticipated,” said coach Jeff Warner, who has run the program since its inception in 1986. “We had a couple of nice surprises in Mia Medicus ’14, Molly Hulver ’15 and Charlotte Schultehinrichs ’15. They worked well with returners Margot Warner ’13 and Lucy Cummins ’13, who gave so much to the team.
“The girls ran hard and, as a team, did everything I asked them to do.”
Medicus earned the Most Valuable Runner award after a season that saw her post the eighth-fastest time in school history.
“Mia is a talented figure skater, so running cross country meant she had to alter her skating schedule so that she could be with us in the afternoon,” Warner said. “I figured Mia would be about our third or fourth runner this year – and I would have been very pleased with that. What I didn’t anticipate is Mia’s determination. She ran over the summer; she altered her running form during this season, as she and I worked to find this graceful skater a lot more power and speed; and she never quit on a single practice – regardless of how hard I pushed her.
“The result of all this hard work is that Mia dropped more than three minutes from her best time last year and she is now the eighth-fastest runner we’ve ever had at this school. I can truly say that I never saw this coming and I will not underestimate Mia again.”
Hulver was named the team’s Most Improved Runner.
“Molly started running cross country last year in part, I think, because her sister, Sarah ’10, had been a member of the team,” Warner said. “When last season ended, Molly surprised her teammates and me by declaring that she wanted to be good at cross country. Molly was fairly quite last year and this was a somewhat bold, but very exciting statement, for a young runner to make. As much as we needed Molly to achieve her goal, I wasn’t sure that she’d be able to just turn on a switch and become faster.
“But Molly was true to her word. This season she pushed herself as hard as she could every practice and she finished by dropping almost three minutes from her best time of last year, regularly running third for us this season. I can’t wait for Molly’s next declaration.”
The senior trio of co-captains Hannah Gaspar, Warner and Cummins all earned Coaches Awards.
“Lucy, Margot and Hannah all arrived together as freshmen and instantly became the future of our team,” Warner said. “Yet Lucy and Margot have faced tremendous challenges. Both are blessed with great talent but both have been plagued by painful shins. Margot wasn’t able to run as a freshman, and over the last three years it’s likely that neither girl has spent much more than a dozen practices running outside with the team for practice. The two ride bikes, they lift and they have their legs rubbed out—also a very painful process. Yet despite this, Lucy and Margot love to run, and even more than running, the two love to race.
“Despite all this, four years ago Lucy became the 16th-fastest freshman and this year Margot became the 20th-fastest runner in our program. Not too bad for a couple of crazy girls who love to run, who are never able to truly practice, and who have done everything possible to be the best captains and teammates they could be.
“When Hannah arrived at WRA, she had already run cross country in middle school, though I’m not sure she’d loved the experience. I don’t doubt that Hannah felt some pressure from me, and thankfully, she came out for our team as a freshman. Despite this somewhat shaky beginning, Hannah has grown to love our sport and our team. For the last four seasons, Hannah has worked hard, she’s competed hard, and last year the team recognized Hannah for her work and elected her to be one of our three captains for this season.
“Yet even with that recognition, Hannah hasn’t really had the kind of career she came to desire – she has always wanted to be faster. She wanted to run fast enough to make one of our records lists or to regularly be one of our top five runners. But that’s the thing about sports and to some extent about life. If you really do the best that you can, you have to hold your head up and be proud of your accomplishments and yourself. I have always been proud of Hannah, and I want to thank her for everything she’s given this team.”
Warner also pointed out the contributions made by Schultehinrichs.
“Charlotte had never run before she came out for the first practice, but she turned into our No. 4 runner all season and just loved the sport,” Warner said. “She loved running and being with the team, she could not have been a better addition to the squad.”
To help meet the physical demands that cross country places on the runners, Warner continues to work with WRA’s trainers on the team’s training regimen. This year, in addition to running three days a week during practice, the team spent a day working in the pool and a day in the Murdough Athletic Center’s fitness room on circuit training.
“The result was we didn’t have the type of leg injuries that generally plague high school girls,” Warner said. “We were healthier as a team and ready to race on Saturdays. The circuit training allows for better training and having access to our pool is a big plus that coaches at other high schools don’t always have.”
Next year, Medicus will be joined by Halle Sovich ’14 as team captains.
“We are losing three of the top five runners,” Warner said. “I know I can count on Molly and Mia and we will be looking at Halle to step up because we are going to need her.”
Head Coach: Jeff Warner
Most Valuable Runner: Mia Medicus ’14
Most Improved Runner: Molly Hulver ’15
Coaches Award: Hannah Gaspar '13, Margot Warner '13, Lucy Cummins '13
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