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Girls’ Cross Country Heads to Nationals

photo by Lance Elliot

photo by Lance Elliot

Lillie Westbrook, print editor in chief

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For the second year in a row, the Edina Girls’ Cross Country team went to the national competition at the Nike Headquarters in Portland, OR. The team qualified, along with the boys’ team, after becoming one of the top two teams in a regional race. In fact, the team was at the top of the leader boards for the whole season. “This season went very well for the team,” said senior Hannah Mitchell, a captain for the XC team. “We finished our entire Minnesota State High School League season undefeated, capturing the state title for the second year in a row.” They also won the Nike Cross Regionals heartland region before moving onto the Nike Cross Nationals (NXN), where they placed 12th as a team. “We didn’t quite reach our goal, however, it was a learning experience for all of us,” she said.

NXN comprised of two races: one girls’ race, with 22 teams (as well as individual qualifiers), and a boys’ race with another 22 teams (with more individual qualifiers). Each team consisted of seven people.

No matter how the team did, every athlete got to spend a weekend at the Nike HQ, surrounded by athletic swag and professional athletes. According to state law, underclassmen were allowed to keep $100 worth of the gear that was offered with the option to buy the rest, while seniors were allowed to keep all $650 worth of gear. “It was a surreal experience,” said Mitchell when asked about the experience of being at the Nike Headquarters.

Along with the surplus of running gear, NXN brought the girls on the team closer together. “Most of all [I loved] laughing and dancing around the hotel room with my favorite people,” said Mitchell. Also, the weather proved to be in the girls’ favor after the sun poked through the clouds right before the race. “[It’s] a pretty rare event for rainy Portland,” she said. The competition pitted the best XC teams in the country against each other, but also gave an opportunity to all athletes to better themselves in the sport. They got to meet with elite Olympic distance runners and Nike offered them luxurious training facilities, practice tracks, and particularly good food. “We got to run on Steve Prefontaine’s (an Olympic runner from Oregon) track, which was super pretty and surrounded by trees and stuff,” said Tate Sweeney, another XC captain. “We had waffles shaped like shoes.”

After bringing home the state title twice in a row (which is unprecedented in recent EHS history for girls’ XC), this excellent team will soon disband after the seniors leave for college. Captains Hannah Mitchell, Amanda Mosborg, Brynn Liabraaten, and Tate Sweeney wave a bittersweet goodbye to their sport, but all are excited to get back into running in the spring come Track and Field season. “Along with the Olympic athletes, it was cool meeting all the high school athletes too, because we have the same experiences. It was cool to hear their stories about running in different states,” said Sweeney.

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Girls’ Cross Country Heads to Nationals