Some female cross-country runners find growing up means slowing down. Not so for Anoka senior Katelyn Fritz, who set a personal-best time of 14 minutes, 47 seconds and won last week's Class 2A, Section 5 meet on Anoka's home course.
Earlier this season, Fritz won her first race ever, the Rum River Invitational, on the same course.
She'll return to another familiar course on Saturday at St. Olaf College in Northfield. There Fritz will run in her third consecutive state meet, taking a great deal of poise with her this time.
"She has carried herself with so much confidence these past six weeks or so," Tornadoes coach Pete Tremaine said. "She has a confident air about her."
Adversity also helped strengthen Fritz's resolve. Prior to winning the section meet, she took sixth at the Northwest Suburban Conference meet.
"She was disappointed with the conference race," Tremaine said. "She let the field dictate to her instead of her dictating to the field."
Fritz spoke with Star Tribune reporter David La Vaque about her use of home-course advantage, an untimely fall at the state meet last season and going out among the state's 20 fastest runners.
Q The Class 2A, Section 5 race was held at your course. What sort of advantage was that for you?
A It's right behind the high school, and we run it pretty much every day in practice. It's a pretty fast course, actually. There are no big hills. There are two smaller downhills and a mark with about 700 meters to go where I usually pick it up.
Q Was it bittersweet to see your sister, Alexis, miss qualifying for state by a few spots?
A Yeah, we both made it to state last year. But she had a stress fracture this year that she was running on for about a month. She hadn't run for about two weeks before the section race but she got her PR [personal best] for the season. It wasn't quite enough, though.
Q Your sophomore year you placed 53rd at state and last year you dropped to 105th. Any extenuating circumstances that caused such a drop?
A I got tripped by [Champlin Park's] Cassidy Soli. I know her; it was a complete accident.
Q At what point in the race?
A It happened a little over halfway through the race and I was running right along with my sister when it happened. It was hard to get back up.
Q What sort of goals do you have for yourself at state this time around?
A I want to finish in the top 20. I feel like when I was younger, there was always two more years or one more year. Now there is more determination. This is my last year and I want to go out with a bang.
Q How will running at state for a third consecutive season help?
A I think I'll be less nervous this time. Friday we do a course preview and then stay in a hotel, so the nerves kind of build throughout the day. But I'm feeling more confident having won the section meet with a better time.