Grady girls cross country team places sixth at state

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Grady girls cross country team places sixth at state

The Southerner

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Junior Allison Rapoport runs alongside a competitor at the state cross country meet. The Grady girls finished sixth overall. Photo by Kate DeGive

BY GRACIE WHITE

With tears in her eyes, proud teacher and co-cross country coach Tamara Aldridge echoed the excitement the girls felt after they ran the state meet.

On Saturday, Nov. 10, the girls cross-country team finished sixth at the state meet, improving their placement from the two previous years. Seven Grady girls, ranging from freshmen to seniors, Isabelle Taft, Margo Stockdale, Allison Rapoport, Grace Powers, Meredith Fossit, Iman Madyun, and Lia Pett, ran in the race, which was held at Carrolton High School.

Though their overall finish was higher compared to recent years’ results, the girls’ average times were slower than those of the previous seasons. Grady teacher and cross-country coach, Jeff Cramer, said this happened for two reasons.

“We moved from AAA to AAAA classification,” Cramer said. “Even though we are in a group of larger schools, these schools do not have as strong a history of fast finishes in cross country. Second, the course was changed and everyone thought that it ran 30-45 seconds slower than in previous years for the girls.”

Cramer increased the difficulty of the workouts during the weeks preceding the meet. Junior Allison Rapoport said the team did long distance running and also hill work.

“This season was by far the hardest we have trained in my three seasons and I am extremely happy with our result of sixth at state,” Rapoport said. “We had a really deep team this year. Every single one of our top seven was in the top 50 percent of the runners in the race.”

Though Rapoport didn’t reach her goal of breaking 24 minutes, she still feels accomplished in having competed in state despite an injury in the middle of the season.

Both Cramer and Aldridge encouraged the girls to set personal goals at the beginning of the season and evaluate their end-of-season performance.

“We talked with the girls about expectations … each girl talked about her place on the team and how close she felt she had come to her potential for the year,” Cramer said.

Sophomore Margo Stockdale believes the team’s dedication, determination and cohesiveness contributed to its success.

“This Grady team worked very well together all year,” Cramer said. “They were patient with their progress and really pushed when it counted.”

Aldridge said one of the team’s most valuable strengths was the athletes’ trust in one another.

“Even though it is a very individual sport one person can not win it all,” she said. “It takes all the members running a strong race and scoring to help the team’s overall score.”

Impressed with the team’s performance at state, Aldridge plans on repeating the effective pre-meet training routines and techniques and hopes for inspiration for new ideas next year.

“I am really excited about next year’s team and I think having the success from this year will be a big motivator to continue to put in the extra miles and encourage one another to improve individually so the that we will be strong as a team,” Aldridge said. “We had great seniors this years who performed well, and more importantly mentored their teammates so they should feel really proud of this year’s accomplishments but know they will have an impact next year’s team too.”

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