What was your most memorable moment?
My most memorable race would be the 2016 and 2017 Group 3 XC Championships, for different reasons. Last year, I remember crossing the line in 13th around 19:37, disappointed because I had wanted to make the Meet of Champions so badly, but I wasn't sure if I had gotten a Wild Card spot. My coach came over to me and said, "As of right now, you've got the eighth spot, so let's keep our fingers crossed." The only race left after ours was Group 2, so I immediately cooled down and waited by the finish. I watched Briana Gess, Rachel Kenny, and Amanda Stone cross, and then no one else came. I had gotten my spot. I immediately burst into tears. Although making the MOC was something we had really wanted as a team, knowing that I would be going the next week, on my seventeenth birthday, was so incredibly special. My coach and teammates surrounded me in a huge hug, and even though it wasn't my fastest race ever, it will always be one of the most special to me. This year was memorable for a different reason. The beginning of this cross country season was really frustrating for me- I felt like I had put in a lot of work during the track season and over the summer, but I still felt like I wasn't getting anywhere. I knew going into Groups that placing in the top 10 would be extremely difficult. With the individual likes of the Hebner twins, Alyssa Aldridge, Maddie Brand, and Alexa Westley (only to name a few!) I would have to run the best race of my career to move through. I put myself in the front pack at the beginning of the race and told myself to stay strong and keep a positive mindset. I wasn't even worried about the time, but I broke 19 minutes to grab seventh- I crossed in 18:55, nearly a 45 second Holmdel PR, and almost a minute off of my season best. That was a breakthrough moment in my career, and I will always remember it because it taught me that self doubt is the biggest enemy you can have in distance running, and self-confidence the greatest friend. My teammate, Catherine Wimmer, also moved through with me, and knowing that I'd have someone on the line with me next week was even more exciting!
If you could do it all over again, what would you change about your high school career?
Even though I definitely came onto the scene late, I don't think I would change much. I am a firm believer in the idea that everything happens for a reason, and I've had some pretty memorable moments in my past four years that I wouldn't have had if I had developed sooner. If I could give my past self any advice, however, I would tell myself to be confident and trust the process more. Self- confidence and patience have always been two things that I've struggled greatly with.
What were the most difficult obstacles you had to overcome?
I don't think this counts as an obstacle necessarily, but I always thought of myself solely as a cross country runner. It wasn't until my junior year that I really started to push myself during track more, and have an appreciation for it. Once I figured out that limiting myself to cross country wasn't good, I started to make leaps and bounds in improving my times. That realization affected me positively, on both the cross country trails and on the track, and I was able to make my first (and last, sadly) outdoor Meet of Champions this year! That was really special.
What will you miss the most?
Without a doubt, I'll miss my team the most next year. They are my best friends, my sisters, and without their support, I wouldn't be the runner I am today. I'm so excited to be moving onto this next chapter, but I will absolutely miss all of the traditions we had, and I hope they'll carry everything through even when the other seniors and I leave.
What advice would you give to younger athletes?
I don't even know where to begin! This sport has taught me so much about myself and life. First, I would say don't dwell too much on the bad races. It's okay to be upset for about ten minutes- then, shake it off, and learn from it. Secondly, I would say to not be afraid to be confident in your abilities. I used to confuse having confidence with being arrogant, and it is absolutely not the same thing. You can quietly believe in yourself and your abilities, while still respecting the talent pool of the other runners. Downplaying yourself creates negative energy that can really hurt your performances, because even before you start racing, you've already told yourself that you're not good enough. It's your mindset that will take you to new heights! Finally, I would say to appreciate every moment you have running- you blink once, and four years have flown by! Take nothing for granted.
What are your post-high school or college plans?
I'll be running at the University of Michigan next fall. Hail to the Victors, and Go Blue!
Who would you like to say 'thank you' to?
I want to say thank you first to my coaches: Chris Desiere, my cross country coach, and Brendan McGoldrick, my track coach. They have both taught me so much about running, and really instilled in me a love for the sport. I'd also like to thank my teammates, who supported me as best as they could, whenever they could, and who I am sure will shock the state next year. Finally, I want to give a huge shout-out to my greatest supporters, my family: my parents, my brothers, and Bob Gordon. You've all put so much time into this, and I can't thank you enough. You constantly push me to be my best and are there to lift me up through the successes and failures.
Anything else you would like to add?
Keep an eye on Red Bank Girls XC next year- even though they'll be losing a couple of us seniors, this is as determined a group as I've ever seen. They won't let the Bucs be forgotten, ever!