Athena’s got nothing on Spartan girls

Harriers at Sun Willows for 3A state cross country meet.

Emily Farrar said she still remembers the feelings that went through her during every foot of highway pavement for the 235 miles between Pasco and Bainbridge Island on the drive home after the state cross country meet last year.

“I had a lot of other stuff distracting me (last year so it was) my fault for not making myself focus,” she said of how she felt she did her junior year. “I shouldn’t say I had a terrible season but I was disappointed because I had run very well in some preseason stuff that summer so I was disappointed that I wasn’t able to put it out on the course when it counted.

“But stuff happens for a reason and I truly think that had I not had a lackluster cross country season my junior year I would not have worked” as hard as she could have.

That meant having to put in her miles when she got a spare moment around her schoolwork, her various other activities (she’s a two-year member of the National Honor Society and coaches a girls basketball team through the Bainbridge Parks and Rec District) her job (she babysits and worked at Wing Point Country Club this summer) and as a starter on the girls basketball team.

But Farrar said she had the motivation she needed after last year.

“When it’s 6 a.m. on a Sunday and you’ve had a basketball game the night before and you want to sleep in, but you say “No, I have to get up, I have to get my mileage in,” Farrar said. “I don’t want to feel like how I felt driving home from Pasco (last year) ever again. That was the motivation.

“That drive home (stunk). It was like ‘Oh my God, I beat so many of these girls that ran so well at state and I didn’t do it.’”

Thanks to that motivation, Farrar is back at the 3A state cross country meet for a third straight year.

The race, held in Pasco for the 20th straight year at Sun Willows Golf Course, features 747 girls from 175 different schools.

172 will take part in the 3A girls’ race, scheduled for 1:30 p.m. Saturday afternoon.

Farrar said she takes pride in qualifying for the meet for three years straight.

“It’s pretty exciting,” she said. “When they did the awards at districts they announced (I had my) third (straight) top 15 finish and I thought ‘That’s pretty cool.’

“I’m excited. I’m definitely excited to be ready to race well and run a good time.”

Farrar qualified with her eighth-place finish at last week’s meet but she won’t be alone, as teammate and first-year runner Hayley Trageser qualified with her 15th place finish.

“I’m excited for it,” she said.

Trageser, a junior, comes from a family that’s known more for tennis than anything else.

Her older sister, Lauren, played for the BHS tennis team as does Hayley and her twin sister Hannah.

But she also comes from a family that enjoys to run.

Trageser goes out for runs with her dad and she has an uncle who is a former state champ in cross country as well.

Still, with this being her first time at the meet, Trageser has many questions that Farrar has does her best to answer.

“I’m definitely ready for it, but a bit nervous,” Trageser said.

“If you overanalyze it you get freaked out,” Farrar said. “I see a lot of what I did as a sophomore in her now.

“The thing is it’s not supposed to be this stressed out experience,” she continued. “State is the coolest cross country race I’ve ever been to. There are people screaming everywhere... It’s just a neat experience.

“That’s what I want to promote with her: Yes, you want to do your best but a time or place doesn’t really matter. You just want to have fun and soak it all in and you want to get as much out of it as possible.”

The senior co-captain came about that experience through her own travails.

Farrar turned out for the cross country team her sophomore year not knowing what to expect.

At her first practice during the summer, she ran a designed route several minutes faster than the coaches expected.

“It was fun to not know what you were doing and be decent at it,” she said.

Farrar improved to take third at the Metro League meet that year, then placed 14th at the district meet to make it to state, where she took 33rd.

In her junior year, she took seventh at Metros, then 13th at the district meet.

But at state, she finished 54th, which didn’t sit too well with Farrar’s mindset.

“Everyone that’s ever met me will tell you I am the most competitive person on the planet,” she said. “I would rather die than lose. It doesn’t matter whether it’s cards with my sister or if it’s running or if it’s basketball – I want to win.

“It’s not really a matter of beating someone, it’s doing the best I possibly can,” Farrar continued. “That’s what I like about running – it’s very internalized. Even if you lose the race you can still p.r. (set a personal record.)”

So she worked to balance basketball and cross-training over the winter.

It paid off for her as she had a great track season, making it to state in the 1600 meter run.

That success has impressed the coaches – head coach Anne Howard-Lindquist and assistants Amy Evans and Mike Shiach – as they feel that both runners exhibit the traits needed to succeed in distance running.

“She (Trageser) has a great attitude, a great work ethic, a team player – she showed a lot of leadership,” Evans said.

“She’s very coachable,” Shiach said. “She listens and she acts on what she’s heard.”

“Her (Farrar’s) competitive spirit works well for her,” Howard-Lindquist said. “(But) she has come a long way in being a really great team player for cross country in having to lead a lot of young women new to running.

“She’s done a really nice job of that.”

And both runners are ready for whatever comes.

“It’s wide open in the top 20,” Farrar said. “It’s whoever wants it most.”

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