Bennett Ascends A Slippery Slope

Only one remains in the running for sectionals


Kayla Reyes

Bennett makes sure to pace herself mid-race. Creating a steady rhythm and knowing her limits, she demonstrates the best way to go about pacing herself.

Chunks of cold mud dribble down the calves of the oncoming herd. The slimy substance is sprayed out from behind them, a spectacle not unlike that of a lawn mower spewing grass clippings. Just beyond the reach of the spray is another group, but one of them loses a shoe as the others try desperately to maintain their precarious balance in the sliding terrain. The past weekend at Big Driver hosted the array of athletes from near and far, ensuing a process of elimination whose remainder would be the ones left standing, shoes on or not. A variable that was not anticipated was the slippery trail they were meant to mount. For many, it was the deciding factor in their advancement to sectional. 

For most every runner on the Central Cross Country team, this meet was to be their last, and the remainder of this equation was to be senior Maddie Bennett

“I came in ninth overall,” Bennett said, and expanded: “It was a new course. There was about three huge hills… during mud and everything, so people were slipping. I mean, I fell numerous times.”

Though the change in setting affected each runner, Bennett speaks about how important it was to have the right mindset.

“I was feeling pretty confident because the coaches had already told me what place I was already in,” she explained. “So I just tried to stick at that place or, like, I would try to pace with somebody that I know is my time.”

Her ability to pace herself so well under pressure will be a strength to her as she trains for the upcoming sectional meet. Freshmen Emily and Natalie Rudebeck have been offering their extracurricular time in order to support Bennett, but also offer her a unique type of physical training. 

A drill referred to by the twins as “rabbit” running consists of running eight consecutive laps about the track; however, instead of Bennett running alone, the twins decided to join her.

“Every lap, one of us runs with her, and we motivate her to run faster and stuff,” the latter Rudebeck said.

“It’s funny ‘cause she’s tired and I’m not,” said the former Rudebeck, laughing. 

From the perspective of an underclassman, it’s always an advantage to have someone to look to for improvement, and Bennett definitely set the bar high when it comes to performance.

“She’s always tried hard [at] practice which makes her a better runner in the long run,” Natalie Rudebeck said.

One of a few coaches, Coach Michelle Breuer, has the same positive outlook towards Bennett as a member of the team.

 “She is very –I think determined, consistent. You know, very focused, she knows what she wants to do,” Breuer said.

Bennett has always been focused in her ambitions of running, but not all of this focus has been what’s best for her physical well-being. Having dealt with scoliosis her whole life, she has adapted to running style to best fit her condition. In past years, overworking herself led to too much stress on her body and, ultimately, injury.

She feels like she’s now in the best shape of her life– form wise and mental wise –that she knows, you know ‘I can handle this’

— Coach Breuer

“This year I kind of dialed it down and took a lot of breaks and rest days,” Bennett says.

Her decision to take it easier this season has kept her safe from injury, but well capable of doing what she loves.

“She feels like she’s now in the best shape of her life– form wise and mental wise –that she knows, you know ‘I can handle this’,” Breuer explained. “Am I going to miss her? Yes, in the sense of her tenacity, but also I’m not because… I want those girls to see that you can do well, you know, and go on and pursue a goal of running and college at the same time.”