Cross Country Attains Excellence


Logan Sifford

As expectations are set to reach the potential of an individual or team in order to grasp hopes and desires, the 2021 Fredericksburg High School girls’ team exceeded expectations. With a very bright future and a core of young runners, uncertainty still loomed as inexperience was thought to hinder them.

Following a third-place finish at district in 2020 and an absence from the regional meet since 2017, the girls entered the season with a chip on their shoulder, ready to prove the doubters wrong that they were capable of winning now. The team was bringing back the majority of their team from the 2020 season as they aimed to improve their times from the previous season.

The Billies leading runner, sophomore Taylor Grona, was set to return and looked to improve her fourth place finish at state. Also, a returning runner, sophomore Ann Claire Cop, said “My expectation was to make it to state with Taylor,” as she was following up a regional appearance in 2020.

Other runners on the varsity team consisted of Anna Munoz, Ava Stuewe, Valeria Ramirez, Alisha Wille and Juliana Martinez as they strived to push and improve each practice. Faced with multiple challenges, the girls stayed tough and pressed on through adversity, in order to make the best of their comeback year.

Coach Dan Aldrich always gives his team the best chance to succeed. His preparation leaves no doubt in the runner’s ability to thrive and allows the athletes to flourish and reach their potential.  Throughout the season, the pacing chart allowed the girls to see their improvements each week and ultimately allowed for the girls to run their best in the end.

With recovery on Wednesday, sprints on Thursday, and long runs on Saturday, the girls received every aspect of training to completely cover every scenario of the race.

As district was coming closer, the girls were ready to display the work they had put in all season. Their confidence was building and the butterflies were swarming, as race day had finally arrived. Grona dominated as she took home the gold medal with the rest of the Billie runners not too far behind.  They destroyed the competition and were named district champions, but already had their sights on the regional meet. The girls stayed disciplined with their training and did not get satisfied with early post-season success. As they would display their ability and hard work in Corpus Christi once again. Grona took home her second post-season gold and the team finished second, in which they advanced to state for the first time since 2016.

The state meet brought a roaring and unique atmosphere, which was different than all other meets. The stakes were high, but the runners were ready, as they aimed to prove they belonged on the greatest stage. The girls were prepared as they took to the starting line one last time. Although, they did not know it would be one of the best performances in school history. 

The girls started strong with Grona and Copp toward the front of the pack with Munoz, Stuewe, Ramirez, Wille, and Martinez fighting to improve their positioning in the crowded pack. The team fought hard through the grueling race and the girls ended up running personal bests. Creating new expectations and defying the odds was very predominant in the end results which transpired to be the best in school history: 2nd Place in the 2021 UIL State Championships.