With each determined stride, Madeline Carlson ventured one step closer to conquering the same course that dealt her heartbreak nearly a year ago.
Memories of the disappointment teased her throughout Friday’s Warrenton Invitational, but the sophomore refused to be denied again. She recorded a personal-best finish, placing fifth in the Warriors’ host event.
“It was not an easy race, but I felt good about it,” said Carlson.
Carlson completed the course in 21:12, exceeding her goal entering the race.
“I originally wanted to get Top 10,” said Carlson. “Then once I was in the position of seventh I decided to try to get Top 5.”
It was a far more satisfying finish than during last season’s district meet, when an injury prevented Carlson from completing the race, spoiling her chances of a trip to state.
“About halfway through the race I started thinking about (last year), and I wanted to prove that I could finish strong,” said Carlson.
She was one of two Warrenton runners to medal during the 20-school race.
“I was really pleased for her,” said Coach Mike Spoede. “She’s was up against a competitive field of runners. She has come along after (Emily) Mauch and followed in her footsteps.”
Sam Swoboda has made an immediate impact during her first season. She earned hardware again on Friday, placing eighth with a time of 21:37.
“Her performance just goes to show the overall athlete that she is,” said Spoede. “She has the ability to be a great runner.”
Warrenton had two other competitors in the race, one shy of being able to qualify for team scoring.
Samantha Potter recorded a 23:54, finishing 38th.
Senior Melora Broker logged a 24:56, placing 48th.
“If we could just fill in one more spot the varsity girls would have been able to score as a team,” said Spoede.
In the boys race, sophomore Zach Davis had one of his best career performances, running an 18:57 to finish 18th. He was the Warriors’ only medalist.
“Hopefully this will show him what he’s capable of and spark some motivation,” said Spoede.
Sophomore Jacob Ruby was the second Warrenton runner to cross, finishing 30th with a 19:26.
“He wasn’t able to break 19 minutes, but he still had a good race and showed well at home,” said Spoede.
Senior Cloud Wharton continued to feel the affects of an ongoing injury, racing in at 38th with a 19:46.
“Cloud still isn’t at 100-percent, but with it being his senior year he wants to give it all he’s got,” said Spoede.
Tristen Cullom was the Warriors’ fourth runner, placing 56th with a 20:31.
“He’s running a lot better than last year and ran a very strong race,” said Spoede.
Warrenton hosted 15 schools in the event, and Spoede says he fielded plenty of positive feedback.
“To see it come to life and hear the volume of fans near the finish line was really fulfilling,” said Spoede.