|Editor’s note: This is the first part of a summer series revisiting the best of Mike Ridaught’s 2022-23 weekly sports interviews at locally owned Sonic Drive-In of Gainesville. Ridaught and Marty Pallman will debut the 2023-24 show on Wednesday, Aug. 23.|
The Buchholz cross country girls team and coach Mike Maren joined Mainstreet Sports Director Mike Ridaught on his The Prep Zone radio show. They discussed the team’s victories, the 2022 season and the future of the team.
The Buchholz cross country girls team won a state title in November at the FHSAA Cross Country State Championships at Apalachee Regional Parkway. This was their second consecutive state title capped with Maren being named the Florida Dairy Farmers Coach of the Year.
Below are excerpts from the Nov. 16 interview—edited for length and clarity—of The Prep Zone’s interview with the Buchholz cross country girls team and coach right after their win. You can listen to the full conversation online.
Q: Coach, I was reading an article that basically stated that your team came in as heavy favorites, but apparently the week of the state championships in Tallahassee, most of the team got sick.
Mike Maren: That week was tough because we had won our district and we had won the region. They were running great. Then, we got into the week before state, and the flu was going around. Kids in the school are getting it, their teachers getting it and I was like, ‘Oh my gosh.’
Our number one runner, Kate Drummond, got sick and said that it wasn’t a head cold, but it was in her chest. She stayed home Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday that week from school. She tried to run, I think, that Wednesday and she couldn’t even run.
Friday, we went to Tallahassee, we did our pre-race, and she was trying to run but she was really rough. But she got up the next morning and she ran. She didn’t run as fast as she normally did, but I don’t even know how she ran a 19:35, which was a minute slower than she normally runs. But just the fact that she was out there running, under those conditions. Without that time that we wouldn’t have won. It was super gutsy.
Q: Take me back to championship day. You know, Kate’s not at her best. She still had an 11th place finish. What was it like that day knowing that they’re kind of depending on Lucy Voss right now?
Lucy Voss (JR): I was a little nervous at the start because I didn’t know how sick she was. Once you get out there running, it can change, and you don’t know how bad it is until you put that much effort into something. So, I wasn’t really sure if she would run 20 minutes, or if she’d run 19 flat or in the 18s.
The first mile we came across pretty fast and I was like, “Oh, she’s going to be okay.” But right after that, she started slowing down. And I was like, “Oh, no.” I tried to get her to come with me. And she was like, “Just go” and that’s when I realized. I just kept going and tried to hold my place and pass some more people because I knew she would drop back.
Q: Any difference between last year? Coach said that y’all were kind of the underdog. Is it harder or easier winning?
Eleanor Whisler (SO): I feel like it was harder this year just because we had a target on our back, and we weren’t the underdogs just winning. Last year, they weren’t expecting us to win, but we were expected to this year.
Q: In track and really cross country you’re competing against yourself and you’re always one to top your personal best. What is your goal going into your junior year, for next year?
Ashley Hamilton (SO): I’m really trying to be consistently in the 19s, so that I can step up for my team since Kate’s leaving. We’re all just going to kind of try to move up a spot to make up for Kate leaving.
Q: What’s something that you feel like you need to work on moving forward?
Kaitlyn Goslinga (SO): I feel like cross country is all about mindset, and I really want to make sure that my mindset is in the right area. Once you’re at that second mile, all the negative thoughts come into your head. So, I’m really working on my mindset because it is a big key.
Q: Sometimes when it comes down to the six or seven runners, it could make a big difference. What’s that feeling like? Knowing that you could make a difference in the race?
Jamey Armstrong (FR): It definitely makes it a little more stressful, because you never know what it could come down to. I know we had one race where it came down to the sixth runner, but I think we all did great, and we all tried our best and didn’t let it get to us.