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Competing at State For The First Time in 17 Years: The Process Behind Success

Girls’ Cross Country takes 4th at this year’s state competition

Conifer’s Varsity Girls Cross Country has taken fourth place at state, missing second place by only five points, and has scored first place in numerous other smaller competitions. The state competition took place on October 28 in Colorado Springs. The entire Varsity girls team traveled to compete with the group. 

“We have the coolest team this year, and I think that’s why we got this far. We have a group of seven girls who work as hard as they possibly can to achieve these incredible paces and miles every single week and we do everything we can to reach top performance,” freshman Indyka Fleury said. 

Fleury is on the Varsity team and just started cross country this year. Previously, her main sport was competitive dance, which she participated in on and off for 12 years. Fleury shared that her mother was her main inspiration for getting into competitive running.

“My mom is a professional Ultra Runner and Fitness Endurance coach. She was like ‘Hey I think you would be good at it’ so I was like ‘Oh I’ll give it a try because I’m starting high school,’” Fleury said.

The Varsity cross country girls run laps around the track on October 27, 2023 getting ready for state. “I think you reach a new mental sport, reaching mental and physical barriers, and learning so many new things about yourself,” freshman Indyka Fleury said. (Sullivan Ramirez)

The Varsity Girls Cross Country coach, Blake Wageman, has been coaching cross country at Conifer High School for five years, one year as assistant coach and four years as head coach.

“Blake is like, an absolute girlboss, there’s no other way to describe her. She is running with us all the time, She’s so fast. She supports us in everything we do. They all are cheering us on every single day and I love it,” Fleury said. 

Selam Dusharm is a freshman at Conifer High School this year, and she also made the Varsity Girls Cross Country team. She competed at State with her team, along with the six others on Varsity.

“I feel like we have done a really good job and made a lot of history… I really like my coaches and they made a really big impact on my life and my views of cross country and changed my perspective,” Dusharm said.

Dusharm has run track and cross country for West Jefferson Middle School in previous years, and she believes that she has greatly improved throughout the season. To prepare for the event, the team practiced weekly, averaging about 25 miles over the week before State. They also tracked their paces to make sure that they were hitting the right times and to see how much they were improving.

“The team is like a big circle, where we all support each other and care about each other and help each other out… I feel like I’ve improved a lot as a runner and I wouldn’t have been able to do that without my team and coaches.” Dusharm said.

To prepare even further for State, the coaches taught the girls about healthy nutrition, ways to better prevent injury, muscle fibers, and how various kinds of workouts prepare the body in different ways. They also learned about mindset and how to develop mental toughness towards failure and perseverance. 

“This season has been amazing, better than we could have even dreamt, we knew with this group of girls that they could be really good,” head cross country coach Blake Wageman said.

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