by Andrew Garda
Senior Montclair High School, cross-country runner Meghan Hessler and her fellow Mountie runners did something which has never happened before in the history of the school.
Both the girls and the boys teams took first place in the recent Super-Essex Conference cross country championships.
Hessler led the way for the girls, as she finished first overall with a time of 19:58.90.
“It was really exciting because [the girls] came in second last year, so we were excited we were able to win,” Hessler said during a recent practice. “And last year was really big for the guys. It was the first time they’d won the SECs in a long time and they [graduated] a lot of seniors last year off the team, so it was really good they were able to still get first.”
For Hessler, who also runs track for the Mounties, this is a good start, but she has national aspirations for her team.
“We’ve always wanted to go to nationals and last year we were able to do that for sprint medley, but I want to get more of the distance girls to go too.”
Hessler was kind enough to take a few minutes to let everyone get to know her better in this week’s athlete spotlight:
Are you looking at colleges?
I’ve started thinking about colleges, but I’m not really sure where I want to go yet. I definitely want to run in college. I think I want to go and just get a basic-level arts degree, and then if I want to, I can go to graduate school after that.
What do you like to do that’s not running?
I really like reading. Also my friends, we crochet and make necklaces and stuff. I’m wearing one of mine right now, but we also make a million bracelets for each other.
How did you get into crocheting?
My friend Haley, her mom owns a yarn store [Yarnia] and that’s how we got into it. So, I like to crochet scrunchies or headbands.
What about it appeals to you?
I think getting to make stuff for yourself and not having to buy from big places and stuff? I think it’s cool to make it personalized and then having friends make stuff for you too.
What goes through your mind when running?
Training for me, it feels mostly physical with some mental. Racing for me is pure mental, so I try to stay focused. Because I can get in my own head and then I’m like “I feel tired” or “I went out too fast, I should pull it back.” But even if you did go out too fast, you could even go out faster. It’s just in your mind. If you want to set a PR [personal record], like 10 seconds faster than you’ve ever run before…it might feel too fast. But you don’t know it’s too fast if you haven’t tried to before.