Poirot advances to state meet as freshman 

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Riley Thompson

Freshman Annie Poirot sprints towards the finish line at a home meet at THMS.

During freshman Anne-Marie Poirot’s first season on the high school cross country team has not been at all what she expected. Between the COVID-19 pandemic and a delayed season, Poirot has been forced to adjust to the unusual circumstances while running. 

“At first it was really hard to get used to wearing a mask while running, especially during hard workouts. After a couple weeks, I got mostly used to [the mask] and just found masks that work for me when I’m running,” Poirot said. “Now that we’re allowed to pull down our masks during meets when we are far away from people, I feel like I can definitely see a small difference in how it’s affected my performance. It’s definitely a lot easier to run my best when I can pull my mask down during the meet.”

Although the season was shortened due to pandemic precautions, Poirot trained until the season began back in mid-February. 

“I prepared for this season by trying to stay in shape throughout the year with soccer and running. In January I started to do a preseason workout plan about five days a week that my coach suggested. We then had preseason practices starting in February with the team that helped prepare me for the season,” Poirot said. “The way I maintained my skill level is just by continuing to practice everyday and pushing myself continually to get better and better. It also really helped me to be able to run with a team because we all push each other to do the best we can.”

In the most recent meet at Panorama farms, Poirot not only set a personal record but she also placed high enough to advance to the VHSL state meet on Friday, April 23. 

“The meet at Panorama farms was a really good meet for me. I [set] a personal best and it felt really good and the course felt fast. Since it was regionals, it was a pretty big meet with seven schools so it was pretty exciting but also nerve-racking. There were a lot of runners in the race but that helped me to push myself and pace myself better. I was hoping I would do well enough to qualify for states there and I’m glad I was able to,” Poirot said. 

After finding out she qualified for the state meet, Poirot was both overjoyed and shocked at this new prospect in her running career. 

“When I found out I qualified for states I was really excited. I was kind of surprised and just so glad I qualified. It was really cool just to see all the work I put in this season payoff. I [am] so thankful I get to keep going in this season and compete in one more meet. I still don’t think it’s sunk in all the way,” Poirot said. 

While she is excited to compete in the meet, Poirot is also somewhat nervous of what competing at the state level will look like. 

“Something that makes me nervous about running in states is that it’s a very big and important meet so that makes me pretty nervous. Also, I’m nervous for the course and how difficult [and] confusing it will be. Also [there will be] a lot of runners I don’t know, so it will be hard to know who to pace off and what pace to go. I’m also gonna miss my teammates and it will be different and hard running without them,” Poirot said. 

To prepare for the meet, Poirot plans to continue to follow the training program that her coach has provided for her. Additionally, she knows the importance of a good night’s sleep to be well rested before the meet. In her experience, having a rough practice or meet can be challenging to overcome and to stay motivated. 

I think the most difficult thing about cross country for me is when I have a bad day in running or just don’t feel motivated some days,” Poirot said. “[When] you have a rough meet or rough practice, it’s hard to bounce back from that and continue pushing yourself but in the end it just makes you a better runner.”

Although her experience on the team this year was far from normal, the environment and atmosphere Poirot has experienced with the HHS cross country team has kept her motivated and helped build her confidence throughout the season. 

“The most exciting/rewarding part for me in cross country would probably be the team and the environment. I looked forward to practice most days because I knew I would get to run and see all of my teammates,” Poirot said. “Being able to run on a team this year has definitely been the highlight of this school year. With this whole year being virtual, it was really nice to finally see people and meet more people and get to run with a team. It made my school year a whole lot better being able to see people face to face.”

After working hard in both practices and her free time, Poirot has soaked in all of her success and plans to continue to build off of her strong performances. 

“The most rewarding part [of cross country] would be the feeling right after finishing a good meet and looking back and finally seeing everything you put in pay off. It really helps me become more confident in my running and to get better and work harder, knowing my times will get better and the work will pay off,” Poirot said. 

While HHS is still in a completely virtual school environment, Poirot has found that she has been able to share memorable experiences with her teammates while abiding by all safety precautions and regulations. 

“One of my favorite memories from this season was the first couple practices when we got to run on the Heritage Oaks Golf Course since it was not open. We were allowed to run on the trails and those practices were just really fun and [it was] nice to run somewhere other than just regular roads near the high school,” Poirot said. “Another one of my favorite memories was the districts meet this past season. It wasn’t my best meet performance-wise, but it was a really fun meet and we got to spend a lot of time together and it was just really awesome to hang out as a team and cheer on everyone together.”

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