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“One on One” Interview with Anna Stitzer PV State Champion

Editor’s note: Back in December Hometown Sports Editor Kenny Varner caught up with Penns Valley’s State Championship Cross Country runner Anna Stitzer. We talked about her success with the Rams, how she got her start and her future.

HS: How did it feel crossing the finish line and knowing you just won the state championship.

AS: It felt really good to see that all the hard work from the season pay off.

HS: How hard was the course at Hershey compared to the other courses you ran on this year?

AS: it’s probably the hardest course by far. I actually had someone tell me it was the hardest course they’ve ever ran on. They’ve also run in college so it’s a really hard course compared the the ones we run on.

HS: Is it because of the hills they have?

AS: Yes and it’s also longer. I think it’s like it’s .1 longer than a 5K. I think it’s like 3.2 instead of a 3.1. So it’s longer and super hilly. Overall, it’s just a really tough course.

HS: You had pretty good weather for that didn’t you?

AS: Yes, but it was kind of cold. I wore gloves because it was so cold. It was a little frosty on the course. But yes, overall it was nice running weather.

HS: Did you have to prepare any differently for the race than you did during the regular season?

AS: No, I just treated it like any other race. I knew if I treated it differently I would change how I got ready and it might mess me up more so I treated it like any other race. I didn’t stress myself more than I would during a normal race so I think that helped me stay focused.

HS: Physically how did you think you felt heading into the race?

AS: Going into the race I felt good. I knew that I trained all season for this moment. I knew this was the last race of my high school career and last race of the season. I knew that I was capable of finishing highly. I had a good amount of confidence in myself.

HS: What strategy did you have going into the race?

AS: The plan going into was I wanted to stay conservative the first two miles and then push the last mile but the race didn’t start off super fast for the first mile. So, I actually took the lead right before the first mile. I just went the rest of the way and thankfully it worked out.

HS: How did your regular season go?

AS: Earlier in the season I won our League meet which was the Mountain League and I also won the District 6 meet which was exciting. Our team actually won the Mountain League as well. There were a lot of highlights this year besides states.

HS: Despite the specter of Covid-19 lingering, you had a pretty good season weather wise and meet wise didn’t you?

AS: The weather was good for pretty much all the races. The only race that the weather was bad was the District meet. It had rained the day before and it was sloppy going into districts so the course was really, really muddy and wet. That was kind of tough because you couldn’t really run very fast. But other than that the weather was perfect.

HS: How much improvement did you see yourself make since your first meet at the Big Valley Invitational?

AS: I found myself improving a lot. My race at BVI this year I ran a 19:12 and at the end of the season my best was an 18:47 and in districts I ran a 19:09 on a muddy course where you could barely keep your footing. I would say I improved pretty well since the beginning of the season.

HS: Do you have a favorite course?

AS: That’s a tough question. I mean at districts course and BVI are the same course. That’s a really nice course. It’s usually pretty fast. I also really like our home course. There is not really courses I don’t like. The Hershey course is pretty hard but I really don’t dislike it.

HS: How long have you been running?

AS: I did track in eighth grade. Then I did cross country in ninth grade because my school doesn’t offer junior high. My mom runs so I have run pretty much on and off my whole life. But I started competitively running in eighth grade.

HS: What’s your favorite part of cross country?

AS: Definitely how close are team is. Our team is super close knit and throughout the season we’ve become each other’s best friends. We always look forward to practice and we have a lot of fun. It’s nice to have people on your team that motivate you, that cheer you on and that are there for you.

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