Of the five Overlake cross-country runners who will compete at the upcoming 1A state meet, sophomore Sophie Sharp took up the sport at the earliest age.
At 3 years old, Sharp began running with her parents, and in first grade, she ran her first eight-kilometer race.
“I’ve just always been a runner and it’s just kind of a part of me — it’s what I love. When I’m running, I just feel at peace, and everything just kind of goes away,” said Sharp as she gathered before training on Tuesday afternoon with her fellow Owl state qualifiers Sameeksha Dangi, Anya Sharma, Glyn Carson and Ryan Bartlow, who will all tackle the Sun Willows Golf Course terrain in Pasco at state on Nov. 9.
It will be Sharp’s second year at state, and for junior Sharma, she’ll make the state trip for the third year. For the other three, they’ll be making their debut performances at state. Personal records on the 5K courses for the quintet are: Bartlow (17:26), Carson (18:08), Sharma (20:23), Sharp (20:31) and Dangi (21:23).
“I’ve learned a lot about my own personal mental toughness, because I think that’s one of the big things that’s made me a fast runner,” sophomore Bartlow said. “(It’s) the ability to stay focused on the race in the places where you might be out alone in the woods and don’t have anyone to tell you to run faster. Keeping that in the back of your mind, just always telling yourself to go faster.”
Sharma used to play soccer, but kicked that sport aside in eighth grade. She said she was on the small side then and got pushed around on the pitch.
“I picked the one thing I was good at in soccer, which was running,” said Sharma, who ran well during a 5K for Susan G. Komen for the Cure and soon delved more into the sport.
Staying focused during practice is key, especially when they’re running interval miles, she said. Sharma takes those times and aims to transfer them onto the course during meets.
Dangi, a freshman, has enjoyed the challenge of hitting the course since she first laced up her running shoes in sixth grade.
“It’s pretty exciting to be able to make an impact. I think it was really the team and all our workouts,” she said of the state qualifiers reaping success.
Carson, a sophomore, said that if runners put in their maximum effort each day, they’ll get solid results. The state course will be flat compared to what they’ve run on before and he’d like to nail a PR in Pasco.
On courses with dreaded hills that have helped pave the way to where the runners stand now, Carson said, “It’s just focusing on what’s next. Giving all you have on the hard parts, ‘cause you know there’s easier parts coming.”
Sharp likes the challenge of running uphill on the course.
“I think just being able to know your limits and push yourself as much as you can without passing out, basically, and just being able to know I can sprint up this hill and still be able to continue for the rest of the race,” she said.