Looking Back on Girls Cross Country

The 2019 girls cross country team battled through adversity meet after meet.


Hana Holtz

The girls cross country team comforts one another after earning fourth place at districts. Atlantic was 17 points behind the third place team, ADM.

Taylor McCreedy, Staff Writer

Football coach Lou Holtz once said, “Everyone goes through adversity in life, but what matters is how you learn from it.” This quote could easily describe the successes, disappointments, and perseverance for the 2019 Atlantic girls cross country team.  

Expectations were high for the girls as practice started in August. After returning five of the seven top runners from a state-qualifying team last year, the goals of winning a conference championship and returning to state were established early on. However, adversity would make the entire season a challenge, with the varsity roster changing for nearly every meet. 

Led by seniors Pluma Pross, Kelsie Siedlik, and Corri Pelzer, the girls’ squad shined at time trials in August. Missing from the line up was Katie Saluk, a varsity runner from a year ago, who began the season with tendonitis. As Saluk worked toward recovery, other injuries would plague the team throughout the season. “It was really frustrating missing half of my senior year of cross country, but I knew that I just had to stay positive and look forward to making a comeback,” Saluk said. The only time the top seven varsity runners would compete together would be the biggest contest of the season–the state-qualifying meet. Even then, adversity would win.  

Following Saluk’s return to action, junior Taylor McCreedy was sidelined with a stress fracture in her leg that kept her out of competition for over half of the season. Sophomore Addie DeArment and Saluk both missed the Hawkeye 10 meet with tendonitis issues. Prior to the district meet, an epidemic of Influenza A affected freshman Ava Rush, as well as several other varsity runners.  

Rush, who had an amazing first season prior to the district meet, was diagnosed with the flu just days before the state-qualifying contest. Despite the illness, Rush would battle through adversity for her team. Ultimately, the lingering effects of the flu resulted in a lower-than-expected placing for the freshman standout.

“If I had to describe this season in one word it would be crazy,” head coach Dan Vargason said. “It’s weird that we got all these injuries this season, because I scaled back on the amount of miles and the intense workouts.” 

With a fourth-place showing at the district meet in October, the Atlantic girls cross country season came to an end. Adversity was definitely plentiful this season, but with every blow that could have knocked the team down, they found the determination to battle on and compete with some of the best teams in the state. Even without a consistent line up, the girls squad placed well at every meet.  

The team graduates four seniors, who have led the team all throughout high school. However, the strength the returning runners discovered within themselves this year will definitely make the 2020 squad a strong one. With five of the top seven runners returning in 2020, and a talented group of middle school girls coming up, the future looks promising for the Atlantic girls cross country program.