Rachel Anderson has been through the tense rigors of a state cross country meet before. The New Philadelphia junior qualified for state last year and shocked a lot of people with an All-Ohio effort.
With that experience Anderson came into the 2017 Div. II state cross country meet at National Trail Raceway in Hebron, Ohio, with monster expectations.
In some ways expectations were met, but in other ways she didn’t achieve what she wanted, which left her in tears following the race on Saturday, Nov. 4.
Anderson ran a 19:02.2, a time good enough to place her 20th, putting her on the podium and earning her a second spot on the Div. II All-Ohio team. However, Anderson was far from pleased with the way the race went, and her tears as she waited to get her All-Ohio medal were not tears of relief or joy, but tears of frustration.
“She is an extremely fierce competitor,” New Philadelphia head coach Gwen Faller said of Anderson. “She holds herself to a very high standard, and even though she did spectacular and made her way to the podium today, she wasn’t satisfied with the way she ran and with her finish today.”
Last year Anderson ran an 18:42.6, good for 11th place overall. She said she was looking to better that time and move up in the standings, but neither took place. Had she run the same time as least year, it would have placed her eighth this season.
“I’m not too pleased with the race I ran today,” Anderson said. “I came in fired up and ready for this race, and I knew what I had to do, but it just never went the way I wanted it to go. I think it was just a mental thing for me today.”
When a runner this talented has high expectations, even the consolation of becoming a two-time All-Ohioan can’t quench the thirst of wanting to perform at their peak during the biggest race of the year.
That is what Anderson experienced, and she said she will use this as a learning tool for next season when she expects to be right back in Hebron competing again.
“Crying when I get my medal, that is a feeling I don’t want to have next year,” Anderson said. “This is really going to push me moving forward.”
“We had the goal of being on the podium again and being better than last year,” Faller said. “We came in today a little more confident than we were last year. Last year we were just excited to be here, so the expectations changed a bit for Rachel.”
Anderson wasn’t the only Quaker to set sail at the state meet. Joining her was freshman teammate Rebekah Stoneman, who also had hopes of grabbing a top-25 spot. Stoneman churned out a time of 19:16.7, good for 28th place. The final qualifying time for the top 25 was 19:15.2, so Stoneman was right on the cusp of getting an All-Ohio nod.
“That is right about what she has been running,” Faller said of Stoneman’s race. “We have been hoping to dive under that 19-minute mark the past couple weeks. Getting that close does hurt a little bit, but being a freshman, I think just getting to state is a huge accomplishment for her, and both of these girls would like nothing more than to be back here next season and to have their entire team running with them.”