As one of Sarah Robinson’s coaches, I thought I could clarify some things and answer some questions that have been brought up in this thread.
Sarah is a full, participating member of the Gunn High School cross country team. She trains with the team and ran in all but one of our races this season. She is allowed to miss practice one day a week (note that this policy is true for anyone on our team with an approved conflict), and even though she had soccer practice every day, she actually preferred to do a running workout before going to soccer practice. Her soccer coaches (both school and club) have been quite accommodating to her running. For the past two years her club team has adjusted their tournament schedule so that Sarah could run in cross country races. In addition, her school coach gave his blessing for Sarah to run the West Regional race even though the school soccer season has already begun (she did play in two school games last week).
One thing to remember is that her improvement in running has only been a very recent thing. Last year, she placed 68th in the state meet (172nd overall combining all divisions) running 18:59 for 5K (her best at the 2.95 mile Crystal Springs course was even slower). For most of this season she was running faster, but not significantly so. At our league meet (consisting of just seven local schools) in early November, she wasn’t even the favorite to win. In a span of 2 races over 2 weeks, however, she dropped her Crystal Springs PR from 19:06 to 17:12.
When she committed to the national team training camp in December, she was just thinking about running the West Regional race and certainly didn’t expect to qualify for finals if she did. Our head coach, Matt Tompkins, encouraged her to run specifically to give her an opportunity against top competition. To that end, we gave Sarah a very specific race strategy that would give her the best shot at finishing in the top 10, but also had the potential for being very ugly if she wasn’t at her best. To her credit, Sarah wanted to run that way to challenge herself.
At the conclusion of the race, we immediately informed the Footlocker folks that Sarah would probably not be able to attend the finals so that they could inform the 11th place finisher. After calling her parents to confirm the details of the training camp, Sarah formally declined her invitation. The 11th place finisher was confirmed within thirty minutes of the finish of the race.
As for the future, your guess is as good as ours. She does enjoy running and plans on doing both cross country and track throughout high school. Soccer, however, is her primary focus and what she would like to do in college. She is well aware that her current size isn’t advantageous for her soccer career, but her older sister was even smaller than Sarah at that age and ended up growing to 5’7” by the end of high school. Our job as coaches is just to give her opportunities and to best prepare her for achieving her goals, whatever those may be.
Gunn Cross Country.