Lady Bears go for MVC three-peat
Kristen Eberhardt, Abigail Kaspszyk, Dana McAllister, Stephanie Palmer, Katelyn Slack and Katelyn Smith all decided to give the sport of cross country a shot in their first year of high school.
While the first year of high school might have been a difficult transition for them to handle, the girls weren't concerned about adding a varsity sport to their schedules.
It has turned out to be a great move for both the girls and the Pleasant Valley cross country program.
Now entering their junior season, the same group of Bears' harriers - in addition to classmates Samantha Young and Mykayla Biechy - are well on their way to making their high school careers one for the record books.
This year, the Bears have a chance to make it three years running as Mountain Valley Conference regular season and MVC Conference Meet champions.
Pleasant Valley head coach George Fair squad will enter 2012 with a perfect 24-0 combined MVC record over the past two seasons.
"They're very easy to coach," Fair said. "And they're a really mature group when it comes to training and working hard.
"But, it's really rewarding to see what they have been able to do up until this point in their careers."
Looking back on time however, it may easy to see how it all started with the way the pack of Bear harriers handled the transition into the sport as young freshmen.
Fair said several of the girls got a nice head start by participating in middle school cross country.
"In middle school cross country, they run 1.8, maybe two miles," Fair said. "I think the girls just ran so strong in middle school and because of that, it was registered already how to run, how to train and how to race in longer runs. I think it made it that much easier for them that they didn't come in as freshmen trying to have to figure out how to train.
"I think it just made the transition much easier physically and also easier to understand the sport, and what is required to be successful they had that already. They didn't have to learn that as freshmen."
Fair also pointed out that almost the entire group of girls participate in other sports which aids in their cross country running.
"All the girls are active," Fair said. "A number of them play club soccer. A number of them run track in the spring.
"When summer comes around, the girls are good about getting out and running and getting those miles in. So, they're really good at keeping up with things."
Fair said there is another key ingredient that has played a role in the team going unbeaten the last two seasons..
"They're really self-motivated," Fair stressed. "I think the fact that they're able to prepare in the off-season without any formal practices or anything like that shows the kind of motivation that each of one of them has. And, the kind of results you get from being self-motivated."
Fair also likes to add a little extra motivation.
"We asked each of them to set short-term goals for themselves at the start of the season and then set long-term goals for themselves," Fair said. "Sometimes they can change a little bit, but I think by setting goals whether its for a position on our team, whether it's for a MVC race or even for districts, I think by setting those goals early, it's something that they can work towards.
"By setting those goals and thinking about those goals early on, it keeps them honest with their run on the weekends when we're not meeting. It also keeps them motivated on those long runs where there's no fanfare. It also motivates them when we do some difficult work outs - repeats and some things like that."
Although the transition to the sport has gone extremely well for the Bear juniors so far, Fair stated they still need to keep their focus and training methods in tact since they willhave their work cut out for them in order to continue the trend this season.
"They need to realize there are some really strong teams in the MVC and they really can't really rest on their laurels," Fair said. "They need to get out there every day, work hard and challenge themselves because there are a number of individuals, and teams, in the league that want to be successful.
"It's not going to be easy to repeat what they have already done and to try to be as successful as they have been."