In her sophomore season of Derby cross country, Katie Hazen has made giant leaps for the girls program that is primed for another state appearance.
Hazen got into cross country after deciding to make the switch from soccer. At the age of 10, she got the inkling that cross country would be her dominant sport and thrived in the middle school ranks.
Not only did the team aspect of cross country draw Hazen in but also the ability to compete with herself is a part of the sport she enjoys.
“I really like the team aspect because we are all really good friends, and we all run together and are very close,” Hazen said. “… It is all mental, and it feels really good after you have a good race.”
As a freshman, Hazen became a mainstay on the varsity squad and moved on to the state meet at the 4-Mile Creek Resort in Augusta. She was the top finisher for the Panthers, placing 35th with a 20:35.55 time.
The girls cross country team took a 10th place finish last season, but Hazen believes that the squad with no seniors in 2020 can make a push for a better result.
“I think we could be in the top eight at state,” Hazen said. “If we all have a good race and work together.”
Her personal goal for the postseason is to medal at state; and having the experience her freshman year, she has a better idea of how to succeed.
“I do know that people will go out really strong,” Hazen said. “I didn’t go out strong last year, and I just feel more mentally prepared this time.”
Hazen credited the upperclassmen for helping to push her to do her best and pointed out senior Vivian Kalb as the teammate that has helped her improve the most.
“Me and Vivian push each other, or at least she pushes me a lot,” Hazen said. “We do almost all of our runs together, and she really pushes me.”
Her personal goals for the remainder of the season are to run under 19:30 and have a successful end to the season.
“The season has gone well so far,” Hazen said. “But I am hoping to run a little faster by the end of the season.”
Cross country will begin postseason racing with the AVCTL-I Meet on Oct. 16.