cross countryBy Garrett Aleckson —

One of the difficult, yet special aspects of sports is that winning is not something that always occurs for teams and the athletes involved in their sport. When they do win, it’s something that the athletes, coaches, fans and family members can all enjoy and appreciate.

The University of Wisconsin–Stout women’s cross-country has been in the top 10 in the regional rankings all season. In the latest rankings, the ladies moved up three spots to seventh.

Kathleen Thorn (Sr, West Salem, Wis.) says that the team’s success so far has mainly been a product of the mentality from every member of the team, saying, “I think the reason that we have become regionally ranked is the desire from everyone to do well. All the girls know that it’s going to be hard, but we are all willing to make those tough choices in order to succeed.”

In addition to Thorn leading the way, the team has also had improvement from a good portion of their returning runners. Morgan Sweeney (Sr, Plum City, Wis.), who is among the runners that have improved this season, says that many runners on the team have all improved in some way.

“The biggest reason for that is Kathleen. She has continued to move up and improve. I have also been able to move up to help fill in the gap from a senior that we lost last year. The four of us upperclassmen continuing to run well has helped. All of our returning sophomores continue to improve, and we have a large and very talented group of freshmen. So, having that kind of depth has been big,” said Sweeney.

The leading runner for the ladies has been Thorn. For the third time in her career, she set a school record on the cross-country team and finished in fourth. Thorn knows her daily choices affect her performance and that she needs to be aware of the choices she makes.

“I would say that the biggest factors that have gone into my success have been the choices that I have been making everyday. Whether it’s what I’m eating, what I do with my daily schedule—just the choices I make both in and out of running. And, I would say that the choices people make are huge to their success,” said Thorn.

While running cross-country might seem like it’s a highly individual sport, the UW–Stout women’s team makes a point of building chemistry with each other. Both Thorn and Sweeney talked about specific things that the team does to build chemistry.

“We do a lot of fun things to keep it interesting. It could be dress up practice days, or just getting together to bond over the weekend or after practices,” said Thorn.

“We went to an apple orchard near Eau Claire. We just do different things besides running to de-stress because we spend a couple hours a day running together. Once a year we do a photo scavenger hunt, and run around town in groups. So we still run, but we also do fun and different workouts,” said Sweeney.

With only a few meets left, the season is winding down. For Thorn, her career is also nearing the end. However, she is excited and has high hopes for the rest of the season, saying, “I’m really excited to see what we’re capable of. We have our conference and regional meets left. If we do really well, we could possibly qualify for nationals, which would be an amazing way to end my senior year in cross-country.”

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