Run Straight to the Top

Nationally Ranked Runners

Elyse Sommer, Managing Editor

When the average high school student thinks of running, they hear the slap of soles on hot pavement on a scorching day, they smell the sweat of a long workout in the blazing sun, they feel the pain of oxygen-deprived rib muscles screaming in pain, they think of the one sport they would not want to try.  But Cameron McConnell (10) and McKenna Mazeski (9) are not just average high school students.

They’re nationally ranked cross country runners, both underclassmen on the Cross Country team.  A few weeks ago, McConnell and Mazeski ranked 11th and 22nd in the nation respectively for their 5k times, with McConnell running a 17:24 5k and Mazeski running a 17:38.  These incredible teams are rendered even more shocking considering how early in the Cross Country season they were recorded and the altitude at which the girls ran.

Both from a family of runners, McConnell and Mazeski credit their families with encouraging them to get started in a sport they so clearly excel in.  ¨I guess is when it all started was… when my goal was to beat my older sister who graduated,” said McConnell. “That was an award for me.”  McConnell’s older sister was also a member of the girls Cross Country team during her reign here.

Mazeski’s family of runners led her to join the high school team, as she said, “I don’t think I would have started running if it weren’t for my dad.”  However, her family wasn’t the only reason that factored into Mazeski’s joining the team.  “I got fourth at Nationals when I was 12,” said Mazeski of her success before even being a part of the team here.

Oftentimes, running is viewed almost negatively, and while that stereotype can be really damaging, Mazeski argues it’s not completely untrue.  “I feel happy. I feel terrible,” Mazeski said about what she feels when she runs. “I feel so much pain, but it’s like a good pain.”  She argues that this factors into the reasons she keeps running.  “I work so hard every day. And in the moment you don’t like running, you know? To know that the hard work pays off really means a lot, because if it didn’t, it would be really hard to keep going.”

McConnell doesn’t quite agree with Mazeski on the pain of running itself.  “I just like enjoyed it so much,” McConnell said about her experience as a runner since being on the team her freshman year.

No matter the varying opinions on the seemingly controversial state of running itself and Cross Country as a sport, not a single student-athlete can deny the absolute prowess required to be nationally ranked and especially at elevation like Colorado and as underclassmen.

“I couldn’t imagine my life without it, it’s worth it,” said McConnell of her devotion and love for the Cross Country team and the nature of the sport.  “The environment of my team also makes it worth it and my family’s very athletic so it gives us something to talk about.”