If you were a student in Anna Donnay’s chemistry class last week, you got a chance to sample one of her favorite things to do.
If you were one of Donnay’s neighbors last week, you might have had the same opportunity.
“I really like to bake,” Donnay said. “It’s just fun and I like to give (baked foods) to people and surprise them.
“I’ll do it visiting the elderly. I give it to all our neighbors. I made cookies for my whole chemistry class.”
While baking is a passion for the junior at Kimball Area High School, running probably tops it. Donnay was the top area runner in the Class A state cross country meet with a seventh-place finish.
Because of her consistently outstanding season, she has been chosen by the Times and area coaches as the 2015 Times All-Area Girls Runner of the Year.
She is joined on the All-Area team by Rocori sophomore Jayda Woods, Sartell seventh-grader Ingrid Buiceag-Arama, Becker eighth-grader Lexi Dehmer, Annandale senior Elizabeth Schlafke, Annandale sophomore Jessica Sheer and Annandale sophomore Emily Kasper.
This is the second straight year that Donnay has been named to the All-Area team. She was a member of last year’s team when her older sister, Emily, was the Times Runner of the Year.
Emily graduated after winning a state cross country title last year and is running at South Dakota State, an NCAA Division I school. Donnay said it was tough at first, losing her workout partner.
“It just felt weird going into the season and I didn’t know what to expect,” Donnay said. “It was different running by myself.”
But she ran a lot in the summer to prepare for the season. Eden Valley-Watkins/Kimball cross country coach Holly Hanson said that she had conversations with her about making sure she gave her body some breaks.
Donnay ran the 1,600- and 3,200-meter events in track and field last spring and took fourth in the Class A state meet in the 3,200.
“I told her after that, ‘How about you don’t run for a couple weeks?’ but I don’t think she did,” Hanson said. “Then during the summer, I said, ‘How about you bike to work and not run to work?’
“She sort of kept track of her miles and sort of didn’t. I think she didn’t want to let me know how much she was running.”
Donnay got plenty of physical labor in besides running. She lives on her family’s farm and worked during the summer for Hendricks Sand & Gravel in Kimball, mostly cleaning trucks.
She admits she would often run the one mile to work and then back home after her shift was over.
“It wasn’t bad,” she said. “Working on the farm, I know you have to work hard to accomplish stuff.”
Once the season started, Hanson said that she had to use some creativity with Donnay’s workouts to help push her with Emily gone to college.
“We had some workouts where we’d do staggered starts and I’d have her start in the middle so that she would have people to knock off,” Hanson said. “We did a lot of different things. I’d have her run different routes and then have her meet up with everyone else at a different point.
“She just became a stronger athlete in so many ways, physically and mentally. Some days, she knew what our workout was and she would say, ‘Can I change this so I can work on this?’ She knew her strengths and weaknesses and what she needed to work on.”
CMC, 6A champion
This was Donnay’s second year in cross country after being a volleyball player. She won the Central Minnesota Conference meet and the Section 6A meet to get back to the state meet.
Donnay was a bit disappointed after taking seventh in the state meet. She took third place at the state meet as a sophomore.
“At state, something didn’t feel right and I just wasn’t feeling good,” she said. “It was kind of disappointing. But I did my best and that’s all you can do.”
“I think she also felt a lot of pressure from the community because she was ranked all season,” Hanson said of Donnay’s state meet. “I told her seventh in the state isn’t so bad. When you don’t feel well, how do you even pull that off?”
Donnay said she also enjoyed having her whole team at the state meet — a first for Eden Valley-Watkins/Kimball.
“She’s a little bit more of a quiet kid, but she’s very down to earth and friendly and very easy to talk to,” Hanson said.
And she’s apparently very generous with her baked goods.
Follow Mick Hatten on Twitter @MickHatten, Instagram @mickhatten and at Facebook.com/sctimesmick. Reach him by phone at 259-3621.
Here are past Times Area Runner of the Year winners:
2014 — Emily Donnay, Eden Valley-Watkins/Kimball
2013 — Courtney Alama, Annandale
2012 — McKenzie Holt, St. Cloud Christian
2011 — McKenzie Holt, St. Cloud Christian
2010 — Elena Danielson, St. Cloud Cathedral
2009 — Heidi Peterson, Sartell
2008 — Linda Keller, Paynesville
2007 — Linda Keller, Paynesville
2006 — Linda Keller, Paynesville
2005 — Beth Tacl, St. Cloud Cathedral
2004 — Beth Tacl, St. Cloud Cathedral
2003 — Beth Tacl, St. Cloud Cathedral
2002 — Rachel Stangler, Albany
2001 — Jen Hess, Paynesville
2000 — Leah Wurm, Monticello
1999 — Jen Hess, Paynesville
1998 — Leah Wurm, Monticello