Eastwood’s Maddie Jackson, Woodmore’s Courtney Burner and Genoa’s Carly Gose finished first through third, respectively, at the Northern Buckeye Conference Meet last season.
They are extremely likely to do the same again this year, although the order should provide some suspense.
“It pushes me to get better,” Gose said of the competition. “They’re in the same league so it pushes us all to work harder for the league title.”
Gose qualified to state last season while sophomore classmate Burner didn’t advance past regionals.
Gose wants to top the school record of 19 minutes, 41 seconds. Her career best is 19:58.
“Obviously make it to state and get the team at least to regionals,” Gose said of her goals. “I made it last year.”
Gose doesn’t worry about living up to lofty expectations.
“Just keep working hard and practicing hard like last year,” she said of her mindset. “Just improving and not peaking too soon.”
Gose, who is also among Burner’s rivals on the track, feels stronger this season.
She ran most days in the offseason with distances varying.
“Track helped me become faster,” she said. “There have been more practices and harder practices this year.”
Burner ran with former Woodmore cross country standout Lacy Nagy on open runs most days in the offseason. Burner feels she has improved despite not being thrilled with her opening race this season.
“I feel stronger this summer,” Burner said. “I worked at it – last summer I didn’t at all.”
Burner, whose career best is 19:04, strives to break 19 minutes and extend her season further this year. She hoped to have a girls team with enough athletes to score this season, but the Wildcats have only four runners.
“After that race I felt next season I can push myself harder,” she said of regionals.
“It made me more determined.”
So do Gose and Jackson.
“It pushes me and we work with each other,” Burner said. “We know the others’ abilities.
“Me and Carly go back and forth so you go back to practice and work harder. Everybody wants to be the best but it’s fun having those girls next to you to help you be the best.”