Being a three-time state qualifier, Maize’s Sydney Roy has little left to accomplish in her cross country career.
But there was still a goal that provoked her to rise early every day this summer: Snag a state medal, something that has evaded Roy by two spots the last two seasons.
“(Waking up early) is a great way to start your day and I wanted to make sure I did any extra thing that will help me,” Roy said. “I’m willing to do whatever it takes.”
As Roy chases her individual goal, she is helping the Eagles try to accomplish what they’ve never done before. The girls team has been to state for 14 years running, but has yet to bring home a trophy for a top-three finish.
That will be a monumental task in Class 6A this season, but Maize has a chance with junior Deidra Walker, a legitimate state title contender, and Roy teaming together for one of the best combinations in the state.
“But it has to be a team effort,” Maize coach Skeeter Rankins said. “You can’t just have two really good runners and win the meet. You have to have a team effort. We have two really good girls, but we’ve got to have that consistent effort from those three through seven runners.”
Junior Aaren Morrell and sophomore Kaitlin Ayres return from last season’s state team and should once again be top runners. Senior Shea Roy has also become a team leader.
But the Eagles have had an influx of newcomers, starting with junior Kassidy Watkins, out for the first time after a successful track season. Rankins also said sophomore Nicole Goebel and freshman Lilian Hammond could make an impact.
“If those girls run like what I think they can, then absolutely (a state trophy) is possible,” Rankins said.
Maize has the confidence to break through this season, which starts Saturday at the Bishop Carroll Invitational at Lake Afton, in part because it has a runner like Walker.
“I get my confidence from the team,” Walker said. “They are so supportive of me and I try to be supportive back. We’re all really excited for this season. We’re working really hard to get to that level and push hard for a trophy at state.”