By Joseph Garcia
As a sophomore last year, Liberty Hill High School cross country runner Mitchell Chase Germann was consistently the first finisher on the boys team. Germann, who finished sixth in the 2011 State Meet, helped lead the boys to the overall bronze medal that day as well.
Now, Germann, who was born in Round Rock but has lived in Liberty Hill his whole life, is a junior and has already shown improvement by winning two individual gold medals for the first in his high school cross country career and steps into more of a leadership role being one of the elder statesmen on the 2012 boys team.
He said not much has changed, but he likes the leadership role.
“Really I don’t feel any different from last year being a sophomore except I’m one of the older kids now,” said Germann. “So I have taken over the role as a leader.”
Liberty Hill cross country Coach Kim Holt said his teammates take their cue from Germann.
“He doesn’t say a whole lot, but he pretty much leads by example,” said Holt. “He works hard in practice and at the meets and all of the teammates see this.”
Germann won at the Gatesville meet on Sept. 20 with a time of 16:03 and at St. Andrews Sept. 15 running a 16:45.8. But the 16-year-old said he feels like the most recent meet at McNeil may have been his best race yet as he clocked a time of 16:34.34 on a rather difficult course against elite runners. He finished fourth.
Coach Holt has seen Germann’s improvement from last year and also felt like the McNeil meet, the sign of last year’s state meet, will propel him for the future.
“Mitchell is a very dedicated runner,” she said. “He ran about 150 miles over the summer to get ready for this cross country season. I think his performance at the McNeil meet will give him confidence going into the rest of the meets we have coming up. His time was about 20 seconds faster than his time at the state meet last year. He has really improved his times this year.”
Germann assessed the season thus far.
“I think we’ve done pretty good, especially the girls who have been really strong,” Germann said. “I’ve been doing okay; I didn’t start out the season too well but I’ve gotten better and I think McNeil is definitely my best run of the season. Just the way I ran and my time for that course was I think my strongest run and there were so many people at the McNeil meet. I think there were 365 people at the race so there was lots of competition.”
Germann said the biggest improvement he has made from last year to this year is the strategy aspect of cross country and just knowing how to race. He said just knowing how you can push yourself harder at what parts of the race and how to run certain parts of the course like uphill and downhill and how to move yourself up in the pack are key aspects to his improvement.
Holt pushes Germann and the rest of the runners to improve each week.
“She takes her time and figures out goal times for all of our workouts and sets them and makes sure we get them,” Germann said of Holt. “She pushes us to improve. She’s a pretty laid back coach. She won’t get in your face, but she will still push you and make sure you are working hard.”
At almost every single cross country meet Germann runs, you will likely see his father, Doug, taking photos and cheering on both the boys and girls from Liberty Hill. Germann, whose photographs are published by The Independent, said while he may see his dad throughout a meet, hearing him once or twice as he navigates the course makes a big deference to him.
“It’s always nice to always have someone cheering for you,” he said. “It really does help you when you are racing.”
To prepare during the offseason, Germann will work out during the summer with a regimen that includes biking, hiking, running, weight training and stationary bike with wind resistance. He will even give swimming a try next summer to improve for his senior year.
That’s Germann. He likes a challenge, which is one of the best parts he enjoys about cross country running.
“Every day you are challenging yourself and you set these little goals and when you meet those goals it’s pretty nice,” he said. “You can see yourself improving and getting faster and the races become more and more rewarding.”
The challenges will only become greater as the season begins to move into cross county’s version of the playoffs. Liberty Hill will have one more race – in Georgetown Saturday, Oct. 13 – before the District Meet in Lampasas on Wednesday, Oct. 24, followed by regionals and the state meet.
Germann, who is seemingly becoming stronger with each race, believes both the boys and girls have a shot to win district and at the very least advance. Personally, his goal is to make it to state. But he knows it will not be an easy task.
“I think we’ve got a good chance to win (district),” Germann said. “So far we’ve done pretty good against district opponents. I want to do good this week at Georgetown so I can have some momentum and confidence for district and regionals. Our new region is a really tough region, for the guys especially. There are lots of really fast guys in this region. I want to make sure I qualify for state and once I get to state I want to get in the top 10. That’s my goal.”
His coach thinks greater things may be in his sights for both this year and the next.
“My goal for him is to try and make the medal stand at the state meet,” Holt said. “I have no doubt that we will make it all the way to state. I have no doubt that he will also make it to the state meet next year as a senior and think he has the potential to make the medal stand next year, too.”