For St. Paul’s Jared Arnold and Lily Dowdell, running is what they’re good at.
The duo will be making their way down to the Div. III state cross country tournament on Saturday, after qualifying in the regional tournament at Tiffin.
“It’s kind of cool because this has been my goal since I started running cross country in seventh grade,” Arnold said. “I made it to regionals last year, but I didn’t qualify for state and that was my big goal. I’m just happy I could get there this year.”
Flyer cross country coach Tim Fitzgerald knows exactly why Arnold has been able to reach this point.
“He put in a heck of a lot of effort,” Fitzgerald said. “The kids are part of a running club, and Jared did basically what was required plus a little bit more, running 35-45 miles a week during the summer time. During the season, he’s kept up with that amount. He’s taken it upon himself to take those extra miles to get where he’s at today.”
Fitzgerald said that Arnold even runs on Sundays, when everyone else is taking a day off.
“I definitely worked a lot harder over the summer so I could make it. I’m really excited. My coaches have really helped me ever since I started practicing. I’ve never qualified for state in any other sport. It’s going to be a really cool experience to run down there and get more experience for next year. I’m really just excited to get there this year, but hopefully next year I’ll be able to place,” Arnold said.
Arnold’s personal record is a 16:42, but Fitzgerald knows that Arnold has the potential to do better.
“He’s gonna have to run his personal best,” Fitzgerald said. “He’s capable at running at 16:30, the course is kind of flat and the weather is forecast at 60, 63 degrees. If he runs in the 16:30 range, he’ll be able to place.
All of this wouldn’t be possible without a team to back him up and a goal in mind.
“My teammates help me at practice. I wouldn’t be at where I’m at right now had they not been there pushing me every single practice. They even practice with me now, even though they didn’t qualify,” Arnold said.
“I’m hoping to compete with other runners from the Firelands Conference, like Brendan (Oswalt) and Nathaniel (Redden) from Western Reserve and Plymouth. I’m looking forward to running with them and see where I finish among them.”
Dowdell, despite her quiet nature, won’t back down from a race.
“Lily is just a competitor,” Fitzgerald said. “She’ll compete against anybody at anything at anytime. Lily does not like to lose to anybody. When somebody is in front of her, that’s a challenge to her to go catch them.”
For Dowdell, running isn’t a sport, it’s a passion, which allows the freshman to not feel any sort of intimidation on the big stage.
“I think you just have to go out there and do your best and show other people that you and other freshmen can compete just like them,” she said. “Running is definitely something you can do all your life, after high school hopefully I can go to college and run. But just running on your own, you don’t have to be in a race or anything, it’s something that I fell in love with.”
Fitzgerald also talked about the keys to being a successful runner.
“Running is probably 80 percent mental and 20 percent ability. If your not mentally strong, little things can affect your effort. Every race is going to have little things that happen. How you respond will determine how you finish and your true character in life.
“As a freshman Lily has that mental ability. She’s been able to strive and get there. But getting there isn’t going to just get there — she wants to do her best.”