By Taylor Grafft
The Liberty Hill Cross Country program has been posting outstanding team results over the last few years and this year will be no different. With some of the top athletes at both the junior high and high school levels at Liberty Hill, it has allowed the team, coached by Kim Holt, to compete at an elite level, regularly win district titles and qualify for State meets.
After last season’s third-place finish by the Liberty Hill girl’s cross country team at the State Meet, the future looks bright for the team as they are returning all the girls that competed at the State Meet.
One of the leaders and veterans on the team will be senior Chelsea Cole who finished 32nd at the State Meet last fall with a time of 12.23.62.
Cole says she has been working extremely hard this offseason to improve her technique and training in order to have the best senior season she can.
“I really want to improve how I start out on the race, so I have worked on becoming stronger and strengthening my leg muscles,” said Cole.
Cole, who has lived in Liberty Hill her whole life, got started running cross country in fifth grade at Liberty Hill Intermediate School where she participated in the Marathon Club.
It was there that she fell in love with the idea of competing and running. Her father, Clay Cole, president of the LHISD Board of Trustees and LHHS graduate who ran cross country for the Panthers, has had a big impact on her career.
“(He) has given me a lot of important advice and helps me with many things throughout the cross country season,” she said.
Cole tries to keep a daily routine that keeps her prepared and in shape both mentally and physically. Every morning, she goes for a run around her neighborhood before coming back to lift light weights.
This offseason, she has given a lot of credit to the cross country coaches for helping her get ready for the upcoming season.
“My cross country coaches are a huge help in making sure I remain fit throughout the offseason,” Cole said. “Especially Coach Holt, who has always pushed me to become the best that I can.”
Because Cole is going to be competing in her final cross country season at Liberty Hill, her expectations for both herself and the team will be set high.
“After last year’s third-place finish at State, I could not be more excited for this year,” Cole said. “I believe we have the best team Liberty Hill has ever seen and I’m curious so see what the outcome of this seaason will be.”
Cole believes one of the factors that will determine that success is how mentally tough she and the team will be during the season when they are pushing themselves to the limit.
“To be successful in cross country one must remain mentally tough through any workout or race, and more than anything one must have perseverance to keep pushing on even when things get hard,” Cole said.
Some of Cole’s best qualities as a leader are her abilities to motivate her teammates and keep a steady pace so that she doesn’t tire during races.
“I think my biggest strengths are keeping a steady pace throughout my races, and also motivating my teammates to compete to the best of their abilities,” Cole said.
Cross country has taught Cole valuable lessons about competing, success and failure, and prioritizing.
“Cross country has made me a better person in many ways,” she said. “It has taught me that your team always comes first and helped me understand that all obstacles are possible for me to overcome.”
Cole has also thought about the future and where she hopes to attend college following her graduation from Liberty Hill in June.
“By graduation this year I would like to go to college at The University of Texas,” Cole said.
Cole added that with the talent on the team, she would like the team to have won the State Championship in cross country.
Even though Cole loves competing in multiple sports at Liberty Hill (she also plays basketball and runs track for the Panthers), she understands that academics come first and it’s important to find a proper balance between sports and studies.
“Balancing school and sports is sometimes challenging, but it is something I’m used to now,” Cole said. “I always make sure I get all my school work done because academics are extremely important to me, knowing they play a huge role in my future.”