Girls Cross Country warming up for upcoming Nationals

Veronica Znajda and the rest of the girls XC team sharing a team moment after the race at regionals. (Photo courtesy of Veronica Znajda).
Veronica Znajda and the rest of the girls XC team sharing a team moment after the race at regionals. (Photo courtesy of Veronica Znajda).

Junior Veronica Znajda felt her nervousness lingering in her mind just as she and the rest of Prospect’s girls’ cross country team started their race. This wasn’t her first race; she has been doing cross country for 6 whole years with 3 of those years being a part of Prospect’s team. Despite her experience, races like these still occasionally brought along both excitement and nervousness. 

The key to getting over any negative emotion was not going through it alone and staying with her team. After about 400m, she caught up with the rest of her teammates and stopped paying attention to other opponents. As the crowd cheered on, she focused on keeping up and not getting separated. 

“You know that you’re doing it together and that you’re in it together, and it helps you,” Znajda said. 

After dropping out of the race some time after the 2.5 mile mark in the state championships, Znajda felt slightly more nervous than usual. 

“This meet helped so much with moving past that and to keep moving forward,” Znajda said. 

This year, the competitors and other schools have stepped up their game. After all, these were the NIKE Cross Regionals, meaning if qualified, that team would be one of 22 seven-person clubs with an additional 50 individuals participating in Nationals that will take place in Portland, Oregon this year. 

With more pressure from improving from last year’s successful season and a fifth place in nationals, the girls ended up placing first in this qualifier event Sunday, November 12 with an impressive team score of 125 points. 

“[In this year’s event] we wanted it a lot more…,” Znajda said. “We went into this meet really motivated to do our absolute best.” 

Prospect’s head girls cross country coach Pete Wintermute agrees that the girls had a lot of heart and determination invested in this event. 

“Those girls were really able to put their hearts together and realize that they still had another opportunity to do something…,” Wintermute said. “They were able to walk away that weekend… riding a high on this unbelievable opportunity of going to the NIKE Nationals this December.” 

Now, they’re currently preparing for nationals on December 2nd, which is only a few days away, with a positive approach and growing motivation. 

“We’re all so excited to go, and I just think it’s going to be super fun,” Znajda said. “I don’t even think I’m going to get nervous because everything around it is so cool and Nike makes it so fun for the athletes. It’s going to be awesome to meet so many people from around the country.” 

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