Megan Hipple and Molly Yasnowski remember the camaraderie from last season when the Howland High School girls cross country team made the state meet for the first time in school history.
The two made their way around National Trail Raceway in Hebron last season — the final year the state meet would be held there.
Welcome to Fortress Obetz, southeast of Columbus, the site of this year’s state meet this Saturday.
This year, Hipple and Yasnowski advanced to state. It’s not about just making it to the season’s final race.
“It’s so important to make it down there, but they forget they have one more race,” said Howland girls cross country coach Jack Tominey. “What I’d like to see them do and what’s going to calm them down is the fact they’ve been there once already, and just be prepared mentally for the race. Come up with your best race of the year when it really counts.
“The good thing being down there is they know what the pace is like. They know it’s going to be fast. The difference is they’ll be running a whole different course this time around. Once they see the course, that’ll calm them down a little bit, too.”
Yasnowski said she tries to be in the right mental state. She has positive thoughts about the race and outcomes.
“I try to visualize myself running the course and doing the best I can,” Yasnowski said. “I tell myself that I will be happy with whatever outcome it is and that I gave it all that I had. The day of regionals, I visualized myself running through the tough spots on the course and passing up as many people as I could. The support from my teammates and coaches is what keeps me going, and I can’t thank them enough for an amazing senior season.”
Yasnowski placed 31st at last Saturday’s Division I girls Boardman Regional. The top 32 places reached state.
“She’s been running well the last three weeks,” Tominey said. “This is a really good opportunity for her. She’s worked very hard to get where she is.
“She was pleased and excited to go back to state.”
Hipple finished 12th at regionals. Being near the lead pack is nothing new for the Howland sophomore runner. She placed 34th at state last season.
“She’ll try to finish higher this year,” Tominey said. “She said it was intimidating to her last year. Emotions will run high there.
“She’ll be better served this year when she goes down since she’s been there already and realize what the race is like.”
Hipple hopes this year’s trip to the state meet helps her going forward.
“I hope that this state experience will introduce me to a new level of performance that I can aim to achieve, since my goal is always to improve my times,” she said.
Qualifying for state gave Yasnowski confidence. She realized putting in the hard work gave her the outcome she desired.
“Running at state will help me going forward in my Howland career because it gives me a special drive to qualify again in outdoor track,” she said.