On Friday, October 24, at Jackson Park in Hendersonville, the Carolina Day School girls varsity cross country team claimed the NCISAA 2A State Championship. This victory is the first state championship title for the Cats since 2006, but the tenth NCISAA Championship title earned by the girls cross country program. The Cats dominated the NCISAA 2A cross country landscape from 1996-2003, earning seven consecutive titles - a record that still holds in the NCISAA - and placed numerous runners at some of the most competitive collegiate cross country and track programs in the country.
While there is a rich and impressive history within the Carolina Day cross country program, this year’s title is an accomplishment that will be remembered with pride. Marked by a rash of early season injuries, this self-named “band-aid” group of girls, led by NCISAA All-State performer Ralene Kwiatkowski ‘17, saved their best effort for the last race on the last day of the 2014 cross country season.
“We started out the season strong then hit some bumps like injuries and health issues,” said Kwiatkowski. “Through it all the team stayed committed to our original goal, which was a state championship!”
According to Head Coach Mark Driscoll, CDS teacher and former Team Academic All-American at Quinnipiac University in Hampden, CT, this team embodied a growth mindset. “The athletes worked through challenges by focusing on the process, rather than the outcome,” said Driscoll. “They chose not to define success by finishing time or place, but instead by emphasizing effort and trust in each other. Before they even crossed the finishing line at the NCISAA Championships, they had won.”
“Coach Driscoll always talks about working together and helping each other improve,” said Kwiatkowski. “For us to win a state championship it took everyone. Kathleen ended the season strong placing fifth at the state meet, Peyton overcame knee injuries and was able to run an awesome time. Annabel pushed herself to a personal record and helped our team as a seventh-grader. Eliza and Annie pushed each other all year and helped us achieve our goal. Emily kept practices fun and pushed herself throughout the year.”
Each girl followed an individual race plan in order to contribute to a team victory. Ralene Kwiatkowski ‘17 came in second place individually (20 minutes, 11.09 seconds), followed by Kathleen Norton ‘18 (fifth place, 20:40.94), Peyton Jenkins ‘20 (13th, 21:30.82) and Annabelle Schultz ‘20 (21st, 22:12.03) and Eliza Van Wye ‘16 (27th, 22:37.94) as scoring runners. Annie Dephouse ‘16 (37th, 23:06.52) and Emily Newcomer ‘16 (76th, 24:23.21) rounded out the top seven.
As Cat after Cat crossed the finished line, it was evident that the discipline, grit, and determination of this team was on full display - with hugs, high fives, and smiles, this group knew they had accomplished a great deal.
“It was a great way to end a great season and I can't wait until next year,” said Kwiatkowski.
A special effort by a terrific group - congrats to our Wildcats!
You’re invited to the celebration of the girls varsity cross country state championship! Join us on Wednesday, November 5 at 9:45 a.m. in the Lower School courtyard. Our athletes and coaches will be honored in a special ceremony.