Captains of cross-country team come to an end on voyage to success


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The captains of the girl’s cross-country team prove their worth with the face of determination to cross the finish line.

When you think of a captain of a team, you think of a leader. For Katie Tarlo and Clara Burnell, the senior captains of the North Penn Girls Cross-Country Team, they were much more than that. They were the underdogs that came to be the competitors that were hardest to beat.

“I think we have been really good co-captains this year. There have been problems in the past where captains would step over each other or go against another captain, but this year me and Clara worked together really well,” Tarlo asserted.

The two student-athletes started their journey with no experience. It wasn’t until the middle of their high school career that they discovered their true potential to become the captains that they are now. With lots of passion and determination to become better every day, the outcome of their hard work reflects on their performance on the course.

“On some days we do five or six mile long runs and on other days we do workouts that help us stimulate what it would feel like in a race to run that certain pace,” Burnell explained.

Burnell drastically cut her time in her first two years on the team. Burnell started her sophomore year and was not able to run under a twenty-six minute 5K, which is 3.1 miles and the standard length of a high school cross-country course. When junior year came around, Burnell found her strength and ran the course in twenty-two minutes and eighteen seconds. The four-minute difference in one year showed the type of competitor Burnell really is.

“It’s a really good environment and everyone supports each other and I think that will help me stay motivated in my future. The coaches have been really good with pushing me to get better and that helps me to keep going” Burnell said.

Starting in her freshman year, Tarlo ran thirty-minute 5Ks but by the end of that season, she was able to cut down her time to consistently run between twenty-three and twenty-four minutes. With this execution, a spot on varsity opened up for Tarlo in her sophomore year and continued to shorten her time. Even with this development, this was not Tarlo’s peak.

“My junior year is where I improved a lot. I ended up dropping two minutes off my time and ran a twenty-one a couple of times. That was the first year I was consecutively on varsity and I got to go to leagues and districts,” Tarlo stated.

Tarlo’s streak of success was eventually interrupted during her senior year with an injury from overusing her iliotibial band. With a slow recovery process, Tarlo had to do different workouts than the rest of the team to fully recover. Although it is not how she expected her final year to go, Tarlo has been doing the most to make this the best year that it can be for herself and her team.

“I’ve recovered to the most extent. It doesn’t hurt anymore when I’m running and now it’s more of the fact that I haven’t been running as intensely all season so it’s more of just the tiredness. My body isn’t used to it,” Tarlo elaborated.

The captains weren’t the only ones to rise their way to the top. The team as a whole has been more connected and improving as runners. With a bond tighter than in previous years, the connection has changed their performance level. With a total of fourteen girls making up this team and six of them being seniors, a lot of change will occur and it will definitely be different in the upcoming years.

“We are all really close. There’s not a lot of us and we see each other every day. We’ve all seen each other at our best and we’ve all seen each other at our worst. It’s really sad because it’s such a fun thing and I really do it for the girls on the team and my coaches,” Tarlo expressed.

Although each captain is unsure of what their future with running will hold, they intend on keeping the ritual of putting on their running shoes and getting out onto different courses to expand their experiences with competing.

“Just keep working through it. It is really hard when you start, like really hard. Just keep pushing through it. Trust me, it pays off. Cross country not only helped me become a better runner but it helped me become a better person. It brought me out of my shell and everyone on the team is really nice and outgoing so keep pushing forward and keep trying,” Tarlo concluded.