When the Waynesville girls cross-country team finished the season this fall they were in first place – academically – with a perfect straight-A average.
All five teammates, Kellsie Hermann, Resha Swanson, Kelsey Mitchell, Kimberly Pryor and Jourdan Kilthau, who take college-prep courses, balance homework, studying and a social life with their running.
"The character traits to be a long-distance runner are the same as those required to maintain a straight-A average," says Coach Travis Bohrer. "Success requires discipline, dedication, a single-minded focus and stamina…so it's no coincidence that the girls have straight As."
Long distance running is in their blood, Hermann and Swanson say, with both having family members who like to go the distance. "Running long distances is cool for me," Hermann says. "I just like running and being out there challenging myself."
Before, during and after practice, the runners stick together and care deeply about one another. "Being part of this team has meant so much to me," says Mitchell, the team's newest member. "It has made me feel like I'm part of a family."
Their genuine concern and love for one another is evident as they sit together around a conference room table discussing their recently ended season. During their spare time, they still hang out together at their homes, go to bonfires and watch movies.
"We are so close as a team, and during the season he's like our dad," Pryor said of Bohrer. "He pushes us to do our best and yet he's there for us when we need him."
Bohrer implemented running plans for the student-athletes and the teammates wrote a progressive plan (that included movies) for their coach to follow as well. Cross team members admit it takes a special person to coach them.
"Coach has to have a lot of patience with us," Kilthau says. "And, he can't get his feelings hurt easily."
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Even though they ended the season in sixth place in the Ozark Conference, the runners are pleased with their performance.
"We put a lot of hard work into this season, and we got the best out of it – great memories of having friends that will last a lifetime," Swanson says.
The team's seniors – Pryor and Kilthau – readily confess they will miss the camaraderie the most.
"Coach Bohrer is an awesome coach," Kilthau says. "He's the best and I will never forget him, or how I have felt being a part of this team."