Elk County Catholic senior Kennedy Weisner enters her final year of XC with a champion's resume. As a junior when she won her first state cross country title - this one in the inaugural Class A Championship. Weisner also qualified for her first Foot Locker Nationals. During indoor, she was invited to her first Millrose Mile, and also to the Brooks PR meet, an elite gathering in the Northwest. She came back in outdoor to capture two state AA titles, winning the 800 and the 1600 - a very tough double. She began her final XC season at PTXC-5, setting a course record of 17:49. An injury hurt her chance to repeat in Class A in XC, and sidelined her until December. She won the Millrose Trials Mile and finished 2nd in the Millrose Games. This was her third year qualifying for the Penn Relaya Carnival Mile - taking 5th as a sophomore, 3rd as a junior and 3rd as a senior. She went on to PR in the 800 at the Loucks Game, taking 3rd... and repeated the 800-1600 double wins in PIAA States in AA.
Happy summer everyone!!!!!!
The last time I wrote I was just beginning my season, and now it is almost over!
This journal takes me back to Penn Relays, which was the first time I ran the mile this season. After taking fifth my sophomore year and third last year, I was hoping to come away with the win this year. Hope didn’t get me very far, unfortunately. Despite leading a great deal of the race, I don’t feel I was ever really in the race. When it came time to kick, I couldn’t. I came across the finish line in third, feeling very empty inside. I was disappointed not that I finished third but because I didn’t feel I had raced as well as I was capable of. Part of me wanted to get back on the track and do it again while the other part of me wanted to curl up and cry. Neither was an option.. It was even worse because it wasn’t just some race at a random meet; it was Penn Relays, one of my most favorite meets of the year. But, as a very wise person reminded me both before and after the race, Penn Relays is not an end all be all. No matter what happens, win or lose, it really is just one race, and I still had the rest of the season ahead of me.
After Penn Relays, I had two weeks until my next invitational, which meant I had to wait for two weeks to let out my Penn Relays frustration on a race. It was well worth it, though! We went to the Loucks Games in New York because there is always amazing competition there. It’s a three day meet, and the people there are incredibly friendly. On Friday night they even have a free dinner for all coaches and athletes! I ran the 800, which was on Friday night, and the mile on Saturday morning. On Thursday night, there was a master’s mile, and I talked my mom into running that on the drive there Thursday afternoon. She was a sprinter in high school, so the mile is a little foreign to her… but you wouldn’t of known it when she was running. Her laps were ridiculously consistent despite not preparing for a race at all. There were probably about 10 people in the race, including one other woman. The other lady just sat behind my mom the entire race, and then attempted to outkick her at the end. Little did she know, my mom was a sprinter, and she is still pretty fast. The other woman didn’t have a chance, and my mom won a huge trophy that weighed a ton!
That was a great start to what turned out to be a very successful weekend. On Friday, the 800 was stacked with a lot of runners with sub 2:10 PRs, including Olivia Baker who split a 2:02 in the 4x8 at Penn Relays. We went through the first lap in about a 63, which felt extremely comfortable, and I was feeling pretty good. One of my goals coming in was to break 2:10, so I knew I really needed to push the second lap. I wasn’t content to just wait to see who had the best kick, so I took control going into the second lap. I ended up being passed by Olivia Baker at the 200 and one other girl in the homestretch, but I finished a solid third less than a second behind the winning time. Better yet, I finally broke 2:10 with my time of 2:09. During my cool down, I ran into Maddy Berkson, so we finished up together which really made the time fly!
On Friday, the weather was absolutely perfect for running. It was overcast with a slight drizzle and just the right temperature. Saturday’s weather was a stark contrast and a bit of a shock from the cooler temperatures we had been experiencing. The temperature was already in the 80s by mid-morning, and all I can say is it was hot. During the mile, my legs didn’t feel very good, and I don’t think my body had recovered enough from the night before to run as well as I wanted to. The race came down to a kick, and as much as I wanted to win, I just had nothing left. I fought as hard as I could but it was only good enough for second. I was truly exhausted after that race. I’ve come to the conclusion that it is much more difficult to do the 800/mile double when the 800 is first. After that, I went on a very extended cool down with Tiana Guevera, who is one of the sweetest people I have ever met. Not only was her company enjoyable, it helped me ignore the fact that my legs were killing me!
The following week was our district meet. We had it on Friday, and all week it was very warm. It cooled off quite a bit on race day though, and it was kind of chilly. In addition to me qualifying for states in the 1600 and 800, our 4x8 and 4x4 relay teams also qualified. Two girls from those relays also qualified in the 400/high jump and the 3200. Including two alternates for the relays, we had ten girls going to states. None of the boys on the team qualified. My friend Camille (who has been my friend since kindergarten!) had worked all year towards her goal of qualifying for states, and she ended up four inches short in the discus. It was heartbreakingly close. We did end up winning the team title by 2.5 points over Johnsonburg, which was a bit of a surprise because Johnsonburg had been beating us all season long.
The week leading into states was also my last ever week of high school! Unfortunately, after avoiding sickness all track season, I woke up at the beginning of the week not feeling very well. I tried not to let this affect me too much and did everything I could to prevent myself from becoming sicker.
The Friday prelims also make me nervous because I sometimes have a wild imagination, and over the years I have come up with just about every possible scenario of how I might not make it into Saturday’s finals. This year, though, the prelims set my mind at ease because it was a nice practice run to reassure me that I would be able to breathe just fine on Saturday despite my stuffy nose and dry throat. I was content to conserve as much energy as possible and do just enough to qualify for the finals. These are always some of the weirdest races, and although I felt pretty relaxed in the 1600, the 800 felt very hard considering the time. After the long day of qualifying, I was quite hungry, so I decided to have dinner with my parents after our 4x4 ran so I wouldn’t have to wait another hour or two to eat with my team. This ended up being a better decision than I originally thought because my team was out gallivanting until 10 pm. Then they decided to have a party in the 4x8 room, so I was very fortunate that my roommate Ellie was very considerate of the fact that I still had to race the next day.
I was extremely nervous Saturday morning, and my mom pointed out to me that it wasn’t about defending my titles in the 800 or the 1600. It was about going out there and doing what I love to do: running and competing. For some reason, this put my mind completely at ease and made me less nervous. I think I finally understood the whole concept of trusting your training. I had done all of the work, now it was time to reap the benefits. In the 1600, I got to start in the outside lanes of the track, which I absolutely love doing! As soon as the race started I came to the realization that my legs felt absolutely fantastic. The race flew by so quickly that I barely remember it. I ended up with an outdoor 1600 pr, and although I really wanted to run a little bit faster, I was extremely happy about it!
Having just an hour between the 1600 and the 800 is always a challenge. It is tough to be ready to race again so soon, but at the same time I feel that I always do well in this situation because I don’t have the opportunity to overthink it. I didn’t know how the 800 would unfold, but I did know that Shannon Quinn would be out for revenge after I passed her at the very end to win last year. My number one focus was to not let anyone gap me no matter what.
We were all tightly grouped after the first 100 meters, and then Grace Trucilla surged down the backstretch and I went with her because I couldn’t let a gap form. Once again my legs felt really good despite being a bit tired, and I was able to open up a bit of a gap at the beginning of the second lap. My teammate Ellie was on that turn, and she really enjoys yelling loudly, and although it is usually pretty difficult to hear specific people cheering, but I could hear her! The roar of the crowd was incredible during the second lap, and before I knew it I had crossed the finish line in 2:09.46, which was tantalizingly close to the record of 2:09.16. It felt incredible to win both, especially since it was my last ever state meet. We ended up third in the team scoring, thanks to my two wins and my teammates Nicole and Victoria both taking third in the high jump and the 3200. We had a police/fire truck escort through town that night on our way home, which was pretty awesome!
A special shout out to the Homer Center mob squad and all of their cheering and support over the years! A simple thank you is just not enough.
The very next day I had graduation, which made for a very long weekend, and I was completely exhausted by it all. The best part about it though, was that a lot of my family who don’t live in the area were able to come to both states and graduation. I had quite the fan club in the stands at states, including my grandparents from Florida, my aunt and uncle and cousins from Mississippi, and another aunt and uncle from Saudi Arabia, just to name a few. It was amazing to have all of their support in addition to my other grandparents who come to almost every meet!
Anyone who has been reading my journal all year will be glad to know that this wonderful t-shirt from cross country states (seen here worn by Mr. Rob Wortman) has finally been retired. He gave it to me as a graduation present the next day…unwashed might I add. Hahaha.
I have one more race to run, so I guess I have one more journal to write, too. Until then…