The recently concluded cross country season was exciting just because there was one. With many restrictions nationwide it was great to see athletes able to compete. The Osceola Chieftain cross country athletes didn’t just compete, they excelled. The Osceola girls placed first at conference, Sub-Sectionals and Sectionals and finished their season with a second place finish at State. The Chieftain boys were second in conference, first at Sub-Sectionals and Sectionals and finished sixth at State. It takes a complete team effort to accomplish so much.
Osceola was led by a pair of underclassmen, sophomore Rachel Ulrich for the girls and junior Quinn McDonald for the boys. These two were Osceola’s top runners among a group of talented athletes and led their team in every race. Both runners won their individual races at Sectionals. For a school to have a Sectional champion is commendable. To have two champions is extraordinary.
“Quinn grew tremendously this year as a student of the sport and as a competitor.” Osceola Coach Rachael Robinson began.” Not only did he complete many hours of training and strength building, he also sought out insight on strategy, pacing, and mental preparedness. He filled his tool box which led to several individual accomplishments. He learned how to put himself in a position to run fast times and to finish at the top. I am impressed with his coachability and dedication. As a young junior he is practiced, talented, and diligent. All of these are great qualities to build on as he heads into the track season and his senior year of competition.”
McDonald credits his coaches as being vital to his successes. “My coaches mean so much to me as a runner,” he said. “They both (Robinson and assistant Theresa Ellefson) have a lot of experience in this sport. They were there for me whenever I needed help with anything, from injuries or getting prepared for a race. They put me in the best position to perform and compete at the highest level.”
Ulrich agreed with McDonald about Osceola’s coaches. “Our coaches are also a key to our success, she said. “They have such an amazing training program and are always there supporting us. I truly couldn’t ask for a better team.”
It is obvious that the coaches lay out a great agenda but it takes buy in to the program diligence during workouts to achieve the successes that McDonald, Ulrich and the entire team have.
“This year I walked into a team that had goals of doing something great,” McDonald said. “Each and every practice was very positive and everyone was motivated to bring themselves to the next level. This helped me as a runner because they pushed me to be better not only for myself but for the team.”
McDonald, Ulrich and several of their teammates make running look so easy. You may look and think about how talented they are but not realize the work that goes into making running look easy.
“Rachel is an extremely efficient and economical runner.” Robinson said about Ulrich’s running style. “She makes racing look smooth and effortless, but don’t be fooled. She works hard for every award, recognition, and accomplishment she has earned. You can find her in the weight room every morning and on the roads every afternoon. As a very intuitive competitor, she strives to learn and use that intelligence on the race course. Runners deal in discomfort. Rachel is one of the best at dealing with that discomfort.”
Running through this discomfort put McDonald and Ulrich at the top of the podium at several races but having both Sectional winners from the same school is truly remarkable
“It was really exciting for me to win the Sectional race because it proved to me that all that extra work I put in during the summer payed off,” McDonald summarized.
“It was amazing to see both myself and the team take first place again at Sectionals,” Ulrich added.” I am so fortunate to have teammates with a strong work ethic and talent, and it was so rewarding to see our hard work pay off.”