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Covey makes a run at state meet | Prep cross country
This weekend it's all about the number 35 for Auburn Riverside senior Rachel Covey.
Covey – who qualified for this Saturday's Westside Classic Girls 4A District Cross Country meet at American Lake Golf Course in Lakewood with a 13th place finish at the subdistrict meet last Saturday at Fort Steliacoom – said she isn't looking to run any specific times. She just hopes to be fast enough to finish in the top-35, which would send her on to the Cross Country State Championship Meet Nov. 9 at Sun Willows Golf Course in Pasco for the second consecutive year.
"I'm just aiming for a 20ish (minutes) time," she said. "Mostly, it's just about that top-35."
This season has been trying, Covey said. In addition to battling knee and iliotibial band issues, the Raven's lead runner has had to deal with the loss of five seniors from last year's state qualifying squad.
"Mostly the difference this year has been that we had five of our top girls graduate last year (including Lauren Saunders and Cassidy Brown), and I just haven't had as many people to run with and push me," she said. "Hopefully though, I'll get that time back down."
Last season at this time she was finishing races with times in the mid-19-minute mark. At the subdistrict meet this past Saturday, she dipped below 20-minutes for the first time this season, shaving off 15.96 seconds with a 19:52.98 finish.
"It's important [to run with other good runners], it pushes you," she said. "When you're on your own, it's easy to relax. I've really had to concentrate on being mentally tough and focusing on my own goals, as well as the team's goals."
Although her teammates may not be able to keep up with her on the course, Covey said, their support has been a help throughout the season.
"I knew I had an amazing group of girls — even if they couldn't run with me speed-wise, they're an amazing group of girls support-wise," she said. "They've got my back. So that was nice."
Despite her being the only Raven girl runner competing this Saturday, Covey said the team will be in Lakewood to cheer her on.
"That will be nice, but it'll be lonely without them," she said. "Plus, the major difference will be the start, because normally we'd be all together in the middle at the start line. But the individual qualifiers without a team will be on the far right, which adds almost another 100 meters to the race. That's the part I'm a little worried about.
"This is crunch time now and (Fort Steilacoom) is just an awesome course," Covey continued. "It's coming down to crunch time and physically my conditioning is back where I want it to be, and hopefully I can get back to that level I was at last year."
Covey, a 3.91 GPA student who hopes to attend Baylor University in Texas next year, said it's unlikely that she'll run in college, so she's cherishing every moment.
"It's pretty sad," Covey said. "It'll hit me more once I'm done with track in the spring. It's been an amazing time here, I've loved every minute of it. I can't imagine not going out every day and running with my team. It's going to be a rough transition."