MARIEMONT – Before the season, Mariemont girls cross country coach Terri Thomas said several strong freshmen and a couple of new runners would join the program and make a positive impact.
While she had a general idea of what she was getting from this new class, she didn’t know how quickly the girls would progress. As it turns out, the group, particularly Marin Valentine, has exceeded expectations.
“She’s still adjusting a little bit from the two-mile distance in junior high to the 5k we run in high school,” Thomas said. “I didn’t think she’d progress this quickly. I’ve been very pleased.”
Her season has been impressive so far. As of Sept. 17, Valentine held the Cincinnati Hills League’s fastest time by a whopping 17 seconds. Katie Overbey and Corinne Fanta, her teammates, have the second- and third-fastest times.
Add that to the fact Valentine won the Mason Invitational Sept. 12 at Corwin Nixon Park in Mason when crossed the line in 20 minutes, 16.6 seconds.
“I didn’t think I would win,” Valentine said. “My teammate Kate McIntosh told me ‘you’ll probably finish somewhere in the top-10’. I was surprised I won.
“I run the first and second mile in the same time and then I pick it up from there for the third mile.”
Like “The Boss,” Valentine was born to run.
Her mother ran a lot up until knee surgery, but she’ll sometimes join the family run on a bike. David, her father, remains an active runner and coaches the Mariemont junior high XC teams.
Occasionally, they’ll go on family runs, which Valentine enjoys, but she’ll also go out and run on her own.
“She’s mentally focused,” Thomas said. “In a race, she doesn’t go out too quickly and leave nothing left for the final part of the race. She runs at an even pace and trains well.”
Finding the right balance between training and keeping runners healthy will be crucial for Thomas and the Warriors.
Thomas said keeping the team healthy all season is one of her big goals especially because they are getting used to the longer distance.
If they stay healthy, there’s a good chance Valentine and her teammates will do well as they approach the conference championships Oct. 17 and the postseason which begins the following week.
“I think we’ll place at districts, qualify for regionals and hopefully have some go to state,” Valentine said. “We’ll push each other and whether it’s myself or the team, we can go far.”