A new season ended with a newfound appreciation for running and cross-country for Buena High School sophomore Sarah Pedersen.
“Cross-country helped me in life,” she said. “Everything (Roger Bristow) taught me I can use in life (outside of cross-country).”
Pedersen admitted that for as long as she can remember she’s loved racing people, but in middle school she found her passion for the sport while running the mile in her gym class. It wasn’t until her freshman year she was exposed to cross-country, when she joined the girls team at Buena.
“I like that we’re a big family,” Pedersen said. “The long runs, even in practice, help us connect and bond.”
Her start in the sport didn’t go as she would have hoped. Pedersen sustained an injury in the latter half of her freshman season that prevented her from competing in races, including the sectional meet to qualify for the 2018 state race. However, in her first season, her teammates had her back and qualified as a team for the final race. Pedersen said she did not do well because she was still dealing with the injury.
The sophomore rebounded in her second season and finished 24th at this year’s state race with a time of 20:53.9. As a team, the Buena girls cross-country team finished 10th in the Division 2 race.
“My old self would have been surprised (by my finish),” Pedersen said. “I felt like I worked hard for it. ... I feel like I could have done better.”
She credits her development to her head coach Roger Bristow and the unique structure the Buena cross-country teams had. This year Bristow, who in the past just coached the boys, took on coaching the girls team. Having one coach meant the boys and girls trained together, which Pedersen said bettered her skills.
“I feel like I did better (this season) because of training with the guys,” she said. “I knew I could be with the people I wanted to and the coach I wanted to be with.”
In the spring, Pedersen returns to her running ways with the school’s track team. She is one of the handful of distance runners Bristow has for track season.
“I love both (cross-country and track) but I’ve learned to love cross-country (more),” Pedersen said. “I like the feeling of going fast.”
For Pedersen, the biggest difference is the atmosphere, since a track meet is a much larger spectacle with an audience and the tempo is much faster.
Outside of running Pedersen enjoys being involved with her church, Thunder Mountain Church, and is working towards her Girl Scouts’ gold award — since she already had her bronze and silver awards.
Pedersen hopes to run track or cross-country in college and study either occupational therapy or pathology. She said, despite having time to figure it out, she’s leaning towards occupational therapy because he likes helping people, especially those with special needs.