Clarke’s home meet brought to a close another race in which the Indians’ steady pack of three ran close enough to keep one another in their line of vision.
Kylie Shields sets the pace early on in each race and finds herself just outside of, or within the top 10 at the end of nearly every race she has competed in this season.
None-too-far behind are senior Chelsea Selsor and freshman Katie Donaldson.
While the three have often run together to push each other in practice this fall, this natural running alliance of sorts has sprung about coincidentally for the most part.
“We didn’t run together during the summer, but we were the group that did run on our own, so it kind of pushed us ahead to be out in front of everybody else,” Shields, a Murray senior on Clarke’s shared team said. “It just worked out that we push each other during practice.”
Sure, Clarke coach Kayleen McCann has partnered the group together for runs through the town, but she has also broken them up to run with members of the boys team.
At the end of each race, the three will end up close enough to one another to be reminded of their shared successes.
“Kylie knows they’re right behind her,” McCann said. “It makes her go forward. It has ended up being a great group of kids. It’s been really exciting.”
The trio have pushed the likes of Tori Olson to better herself, as Olson bested both Donaldson and Selsor at last Thursday’s meet in Chariton.
With the girls team feeding off one another, the Indians have seen encouraging results all the way around.
Tuesday’s second-place finish at their home meet was the best high school finish for all current members of the Clarke squad.
Clarke had already nabbed third-place at a couple meets this season.
“This is the first year since we’ve been in eighth-grade that we’ve placed as a team really high or even had a full team for girls. It’s really exciting,” Shields exclaimed.
The Indians, and the pack of three specifically, has to hold one another accountable.
“I think if we stay close as a pack we’ll score good as a team and that’s why I’ve been pushing it this year,” Selsor said.
Donaldson noted that fellow young teammates Olson and Rebecca Van Buren have made steady strides.
Now, the trio, and the Indians as a whole, turn their sights toward the South Central Conference meet at Chariton, where they just ran.
They’ve set a loose goal of finishing top three at that meet. Posting a state qualifier isn’t out of the question either.
Selsor had already noted that this season’s success for the girls squad has been a product of hard work and determination, but, it’s a bit of luck how close they all end up to one another when they complete their races.
“It’s just something that comes together,” Selsor said.
But if Clarke earns a top three finish at the SCC meet, or even qualifies someone for state, it won’t be some coincidence.