Girls cross country travels cross-state to experience new course


Kathryn McAuliffe

At the Sioux Passage cross country meet Sept. 21, junior Emily Sipp rounds a bend in the course. Sipp has been running since second grade when she began a track program through her church. “My favorite part is probably just [being with] the people that I get to run with daily. Outside the sport, we probably wouldn’t really all be friends. When you get to know each other, and push each other and work hard together, it’s really fun to [share] that experience with other girls,” Sipp said.

Always on the run, the girls cross country team is traveling cross-state for a race Saturday, Sept. 28 to familiarize themselves with the new state course in Columbia, Mo. The state course was relocated from Jefferson City, Mo. for the first time since 1976 following the University of Missouri’s construction of a new course.

“Mizzou got together with Columbia Parks and they decided they wanted to build a cross country course in Columbia so they can host NCAA regional meets and big time meets for college,” head coach Charles Cutelli said. “Columbia also decided to host high school meets and MSHAA [the Missouri State High School Activities Association] decided they were going to go with Columbia.”

Members of the team will travel to Columbia for the Gan’s Creek Cross Country Invitational held Sept. 28.

“I think the girls are excited. They’re a little bit nervous [so] I’m getting lots of questions. I don’t know any of the answers to any of the questions. I’ve been to the course but I haven’t been to the course when there’s grass and everything, it was all dirt and being grated out,” Cutelli said. “There was a lot of work going on over the summer and it’s supposed to look really nice. If Mizzou helped design it, it sounds like they pulled a bunch of pieces from courses that they’ve raced at they’ve liked and I would envision that if they want to host big time NCAA regional meets that it’s going to be pretty nice.”

“We’re bringing some young pups. I’m hoping the young pups are going to be a little wide-eyed and like ‘oh my god,’ ”

— head coach Charles Cutelli

Team members recognize the value in training at the course ahead of time. Despite not knowing whether they will qualify to state, the team’s record makes a state qualification likely.

“I feel good about it since we’re trying out the new state course, so I’m a little nervous but I’m also confident because we’ve trained really hard the past few weeks. I’m confident that we’ll go there and run our best,” junior Anna Butler said. “It’s important because the more you know the course and the more comfortable you are with it, the better you’ll perform since you know when the hard parts are and when you need to step it up.”

In addition to participating in the meet, members will bond during team activities and while carpooling to Columbia.

“It’s going to be a big race. There’s going to be a lot of competition so I’m excited just to see how it goes and I’m excited to travel. Last year, we went to Memphis, [which] was fun. This year, we’re not traveling as a team but I’m going down with some friends and I think we’re going to play some games and stuff so I’m excited,” junior Emily Sipp said. “We just want to see what it’s like so we can be prepared if we make it to state, like last year.”

With gaining experience as the primary focus for the upcoming trip, the program is excited at the prospect of a new opportunity.

“I’m cautiously optimistic, I guess I’m going more for the experience, there’s going to be a lot of really good teams there and we’re not 100% right now,” Cutelli said. “We’re bringing some young pups. I’m hoping the young pups are going to be a little wide-eyed and like ‘oh my god,’ but they’ll get some experience at a big time meet and so when they go to another big time meet, maybe this year or in the future, they’ll be ready for that.”