Park Tudor School junior runner Sophia Kennedy surpassed her own expectations.
The Carmel resident placed seventh in 17 minutes and 34.7 seconds in the Eastbay (formerly Foot Locker) Cross Country Nationals held Dec. 11 in San Diego.
“I think it was a great race for me,” Kennedy said. “It was not my best time. Due to it being a notoriously difficult course, I was pretty proud of how I ran. It was better than I was hoping to finish, which is really exciting. My goal was top 10, but I wasn’t expecting anything other than 10, to be honest.”
Kennedy, the daughter of former Indiana University runner Bob Kennedy, a two-time Olympian and four-time NCAA champion, qualified by finishing third Nov. 27 in the Eastbay Midwest Region Championships at Kenosha, Wis.
“Five weeks before the sectional championships, I got an Achilles tendon injury,” Kennedy said. “That set back my season a little bit. I didn’t perform the way I wanted to at the state meet. That was disappointing. I wanted to push through from that point and not let that injury keep me from being successful post-state meet. Keeping consistent is key when you have injuries.”
Kennedy finished third in the IHSAA state meet Oct. 30 in Terre Haute.
In the boys race of the Eastbay nationals Dec. 11, Carmel High School junior Kole Mathison placed fifth. He was the top junior in the race, finishing in 15:22.3. He had set the Indiana high school 5,000-meter record in 14:23.2, finishing ninth in the RunningLane nationals Dec. 4 at Huntsville, Ala.
“I feel blessed to have had the opportunities to compete against the best athletes in the country in back-to-back weeks,” Mathison said. “And to have raced as well as I did on those two occasions showed me how much strength God provided for me.”
Mathison said he didn’t feel like he was in peak shape.
“I had been struggling with sickness and injury all season and never got consistent training,” said Mathison, who was fourth in the IHSAA state finals. “But I didn’t let that affect my mentality going into the big races. I was going to give it my best, and no matter what that meant when I crossed the finish line, I was going to be content.”