Promising Start for Women’s Cross Country

The women’s cross country team started this season on an upswing.

Last week the Raiders won the Ohio High School Girls Cross Country Team of the Week award and as well as the Cleveland Plain Dealer’s Non-Football Fall Sports Team of the Week award. Both awards were determined by fan votes, with the Raiders collecting 48.9% of the Plain Dealer vote to win the award.

These nominations came after Shaker defeated both Rocky River and Akron St. Vincent St. Mary for the Maroon Division title at the Avon Lake Early Bird Invite on Saturday Sept. 12. The key runners in the Raiders’ victory included junior Mimi Reimers — who finished first with a time of 19:42 — sophomore Alexa Jankowsky and junior Sophie Matts. Matts and Jankowsky both earned Runner of the Meet honors. Sophomore Sophie Carrier also set a personal record. Reimers was proud of the whole team’s performance.

“I am incredibly happy that we won the award,” Reimers said. “We’ve never been nominated for an award in the past years I’ve been on the team and I think that we are going to have an amazing season this year.”

Head Coach David Englander was proud but unsurprised by the honor.

The team of the week award was a great validation of the hard work the girls have put in,” Englander said. “I am hopeful that this helps them see themselves as contenders on the state level.”

Underclassmen runners were for counted upon to perform well after two key seniors — Sara Mesiano and Marisa Hofstetter — were unable to attend the meet. The Raiders continued their success last Saturday with a 3rd place finish at the Tiffin Invitational out of 36 teams. The Raiders also have a 1st place finish at the George Clements Invitational.

We push ourselves to the brink for each other because we put the needs of our team in front of our own needs, which really sets us apart from other teams.

— Ally Nordstrom

Englander attributes the team’s recent success to their work ethic.

“This year’s team is the product of many years of hard working girls, passing down their influence,” Englander said. “A large number of girls on this year’s squad took that to heart, and dedicated a tremendous amount of time this summer to running, the weight room, and each other.”

Junior Ally Nordstrom believes her teammates’ ability to push one another is a major  reason for the team’s recent success.

We each push ourselves as hard as we can. We see each other struggling every day and it gives us such a strong sense of connection by feeling each other’s pain,” Nordstrom said. “We push ourselves to the brink for each other because we put the needs of our team in front of our own needs, which really sets us apart from other teams.”

Englander believes that the team’s success will continue as long as they maintain a strong work ethic with the goal of reaching the state meet as a team in mind.

“We are cautiously optimistic that our team will continue to improve,” he said. “Making it to the state championship and performing well there has always been one of our goals.”

Nordstrom also believes the team will continue to succeed.

We’re such a young team that we won’t be losing too many of the strongest runners for a couple years,” she said. “Even after everyone that’s on the team now is gone, I see future runners working just as hard to repeat the success that we’ve been having. Shaker has such a strong running community, with the running club at Woodbury, youth cross country, middle school and high school teams, that I can only see the program getting bigger and better in the future.”

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