Rescheduled on Friday @ Deerfield with Hersey, Mather, & Warren:
After a weird week of HOT weather and concussion testing, we finally had the opportunity to test ourselves against other teams. I was SO excited to see how we would stack up after a really impressive summer of training and a particularly strong week this week (I'm still smiling about everyone's effort on the grass 800 loop on Monday).
When we left ZB, the weather was cool and the skies were overcast. Although it was humid, I was optimistic because it was nowhere near as hot as the previous two days, and the lack of sun would feel good! As we drove south, the skies became more and more blue, and the temperature crept up. Our 2-mile girls had the toughest conditions of the day, but they handled the newness of racing and the warmth of the sun with grit and grace. During the warm up, I could feel the good vibes from this group, and their races continued that trend.
Highlights: To quote some of the guys during shout outs, Anesa just looked STRONG. In her first XC race ever, Anesa was the ZB leader from gun to chute. She did a nice job of testing her summer fitness and setting an assertive tone for our crew. Alivia was our second finisher, and she did a fantastic job of "growing" in the race. She went out more conservatively and picked off people in the second half, finishing only 12 seconds behind Anesa. I would love to see these two work together in our next meet! Despite missing much of the week due to illness, Liz looked like her senior self as our third finisher. She was still battling congestion, but her summer strength took over to help her take 3rd for our team. I look forward to seeing her race at full-strength if this is what sick-Liz can do! Norah was our 4th finisher and looked great despite starting late due to competing with the Razzle Dazzles in England only two weeks ago! Her middle school experience kicked in today, and her actual kick was fantastic, too! As she becomes more racing-fit, it will be fun to see what Norah can do with her teammates! Cheyenne was our next bee, managing some rude knee pain that came on this week. We will get to the bottom of it so that she can show off her Oshkosh and summer fitness! That being said, she was instrumental in helping our newbees manage their pre-race nerves and learn the course. Abby was our next bee, smiling the whole way! This kind of energy is important for our team. She showed everyone that racing is fun, and she worked hard in the second half to catch people. Nice job, Abby! Alisia was our next finisher, looking fantastic throughout the race. She did a great job of using the crowd to fuel some mid-race surges, and her kick was fantastic! Jazmin was only seconds behind looking SO STRONG. During shout outs, several people mentioned her even pacing and strong look--nice work, Jaz! She also wins best moment of the race when she high-fived the official who was trying to direct her to the finish! Joi and Annie worked so well together today, finishing only seconds apart. Joi's strength from the summer helped Annie who was managing some heel pain this week. These two freshies fed off each other throughout the race--nice work! Sasha and Deisy were our other duo. The finished within hundreths of a second of each other, challenging each other throughout the finish straightaway. These two helped each other in the last mile, too. I love their energy and look forward to seeing what they can do over 3 miles! Our final bee was Dani, who showed off her positive mindset today. With 300 to go, she opened her stride, feeding off the cheers of her teammates. She also had a great kick in the final stretch. She has come so far in the past two weeks, and I cannot wait to see how she looks in another two weeks! Overall, this VERY young group promised they would work hard an not walk today. While other teams did not live up to that mindset, ALL of these women did, despite the hot temps! While I am very proud of their races today, I am really excited to see how they supported their teammates during the 3-mile race. That kind of energy matters, and it fuelled our women and men to great performances. NICE WORK, WOMEN!
Our 3-milers really stepped up today, too. The weather was not much different for this race, but these bees did not let the rude sun deter them from their goals. Lauren got out hard and looked fantastic today. Not only did she do a great job of challenging herself, she also worked on other runners without the help of her XC buddy Riley. She was gutsy, and it paid off with a huge jump from last year's performance, running 47 seconds faster! That growth is despite having dance lessons four days this week. I am proud of her courageous start and gutsy finish. Nice job, junior! Rachel had a big performance as our second bee. Like Lauren, she showed off tremendous growth since last year--66 seconds faster! More importantly, Rachel really took some risks. Although she was by herself, she kept her composure and worked to catch people in the second half (once she figured out where she was in the race!). I am really pleased with her effort and cannot wait to see her race again! Nice work, Rose! In a big moment as a racer, Fia was our third bee! Not only was she significantly faster than last year (she was not in town for Deerfield, but she ran 81 seconds faster than her first race from last year!), but she more importantly LOOKED GUTSY. She told me she wanted to beat freshman Fia, and that she did. Freshman Fia was preoccupied with time and worried about looking bad when taking risks. Junior Fia went after other runners in the final 400, passing several and helping her team. On the bus, she was outspoken about shout-outs, too. This new fire is what I have been waiting for! Awesome work, Fia-Fia! Brionne was our next finisher, and she followed the same pattern as her teammates: She ran 61 seconds faster than her 3-mile opener from last year (she only raced the 2-mile at Deerfield last year after coming back from injury). For perspective, her Deerfield 2022 pace for 2 miles was 7:45; her Deerfield 2023 for 3 miles was 7:18. That shows how much work she put in this summer and how strong she is! She was also battling a rude stomach while accomplishing this improved time! Proud of you, Bri! Speaking of growth, Jana rounded out our scoring 5 today. Last year, she wasn't even ready to race at Deerfield. Her first race was at home where she ran 26:58. Today, she ran 3:05 faster, finishing in 23:53! That drop is a testament to her hard work this summer! What an impressive effort, Janalise! Proud of you! Sporting big shades, Juliana was our next finisher. During track, something clicked for Juliana, and it definitely showed today. Last XC season, Juliana just didn't get what it took to be great, but she gets it now. She stepped up to the 3-mile race and ran a HUGE LPR! She ran 1:48 faster than she did at the end of last season. I cannot wait to see what she can do this season with this locked-in mindset! Proud of you, J! Speaking of proud, what a day Aniya had! She ran 20 seconds faster than her effort last year at Deerfield. What a testament to all the hard work she put in during the summer! I loved watching her kick, too. Form looked great, and her turnover was speedy. Awesome effort, Aniya! When Mary joined us on the first day of XC, I was excited to see her smiling face. She was a curious, hard working member of our track team last year, and I had no idea that she planned to run XC. She has been such an amazing addition to our team in just two short weeks. Her positivity and desire to improve shows every day, but it was showcased in this first race. I love that she wanted to run the 3-mile "to get used to what we will race all season." I love it more that she helped Tyla so much during the race! These two worked together so well, challenging each other to NOT settle. Proud of you, Mary! And Tyla? What a difference a year makes. Tyla didn't make it in XC last year, but she is a different athlete this year. She is feeding off of Joi's experience from the summer and Mary's energy in order to compete like a veteran! SO proud of your growth, Tyla! Keep it up! These two finished only milliseconds apart, and I can't wait to see what they do in the next race. Eva worked with these two for much of the race, and I'm so proud of her for stepping up to the 3-mile. Not only did she run significantly faster than at Bee Linked (over 4:00 minutes faster!), she also ran much faster than her 3-mile opener from last year (5:29 faster!). Like Juliana, she has a different mindset than last year, and I am here for it! After managing a sore toe all week, she rocked this race. Proud of you, Eva! Tati is a returning runner, too. Mid-week, she messaged me asking if she could switch from the 2-mile to the 3-mile. I love that mindset. She knew that she could handle the longer race, and she took on the challenge! Last year, she averaged 10:50 pace for 2-miles. This year, she ran 2 seconds faster per mile for 3 miles! That is GROWTH! So proud of Tati's calm presence on the starting line and tenacity during the race. Keep it up, Tati! Overall, this group was just plain gritty.
Overall, we competed well with these tough teams. I like our odds when we see them again. You can check out how we stacked up on athletic.net. Click here for this meet's results. This website is a tremendous resource. Click on your own name to see how you progress throughout the season.
A quick note about beeing linked: This weekend we basked in the concept of beeing linked. On Friday, Class of '23 grad Estrella came to support us in our first meet of the year. Not only did she lend her voice of encouragement, but she also brought treats for post-race! It was so good to feel her calm presence and positivity. Thanks for your support, Estrella! On Saturday morning, former Coach Lorie Wynn (Reid) from the class of '11 surprised us with a visit before we headed up to Parkside for practice! As I mentioned on Saturday, Coach Wynn started out as a person who wanted a t-shirt and grew into such an important leader and contributing Varsity member; she did so through consistent hard work. After college graduation, she gave back to the program by volunteering for several years before she moved out east. We miss her knowledge and drive but were overjoyed by her visit! Finally, at Parkside, I saw a familiar face run by--it was no other than Chris Rojas, Class of 2011. She was a co-captain with Coach Wynn, and was an important backbone to our team over her four years of running. What a great surprise to literally run in to her at practice! That's a lot of linked energy in one weekend, and I'm all for it! When you get to a tough spot in your race, remember that GENERATIONS of ZBXCers have felt that same doubt or discomfort, and they are sending you all their good energy and faith so that you can bee your best. #linkedforlife
This week, let's build on this great start. Let's take some new risks on Wednesday at Lake County on this fun course! Please take care of yourselves: consistent sleep, consistent fueling and hydrating, and consistent positive mindset! Plan ahead homework-wise for Wednesday. We will likely get back at 8:30, and the meet is NOT an excuse. So talk with your teachers on Monday so that you can take care of business this week! We also have TWO meets, which means you need to take care of your bodies and minds twice as much.
Don't forget to order your ZBXC 2023 Team Gear! The seniors believe in that slogan: Work today & thrive tomorrow!