Area Female Athlete: S-M's Sweeney running down lofty goals
Kira Sweeney Year: Freshman School: Staples-Motley Sport: Cross country Highlights: Won the Mid-State Conference meet in 21:12.55 Like last season, Kira Sweeney is peaking at the perfect time. As an eighth-grader, Sweeney set the Staples-Motley s...
Sport: Cross country
Highlights: Won the Mid-State Conference meet in 21:12.55
Like last season, Kira Sweeney is peaking at the perfect time.
As an eighth-grader, Sweeney set the Staples-Motley school record at the Section 6-1A meet with a time of 19:18.5 to finish second and advance to her first state meet.
She didn't disappoint from there as Sweeney posted a seventh-place 19:25.0 in the Class 1A final.
"When I was done, I was actually very surprised by how well I had done," Sweeney said of the state meet. "I was pretty proud of my time when I was done."
Cardinals head coach Bruce Fuhrman could tell his runner started to believe in herself after that race.
"I think she found she was very competitive with any of the Class 1A runners," Fuhrman said. "She talks about a lot of the top runners. She knows what their splits are and I know she has goals to make it back into the top 10 and finish even higher.
"She knows what it takes to get there, but she's got her concerns, too. There are a lot of good kids around the area."
Sweeney hasn't let up since a breakout season last year. She repeated as the Mid-State Conference champion Oct. 10. While her time, 21:12.55, wasn't spectacular, she employed a conservative approach to the event.
"Obviously, my time wasn't what I wanted it to be and the course was long is what I was told," Sweeney said. "It was definitely one of the hardest races that I've personally ran."
Furhman said the course was a new course and with Sweeney not far removed from an ankle injury they decided to be cautious.
"She looked very good," Fuhrman said. "That course in Pequot, I would say, was very dangerous, so we ran that very conservative. She built a big lead and didn't look at time so much. I know she could have crushed the course faster than what she was, but she just got a big lead and held it. We just wanted her to finish injury free. It was a new course."
A week later, Sweeney posted a first-place time of 19:44.7 to win the Park Rapids Invite.
"She's our school record holder and I know the 5K has only been out there for a few years, but she's going to put that out of reach for many years the way it's going," Fuhrman said. "I'm hoping she can break 19 minutes, which is very possible.
"Her real time from (Monday's) event was 19:32. They had some issues with the timing. She kind of coasted with that. She worked hard at the end, but it looks like she's going to break it this year. It will be close and I hope it's before the state meet."
While she's happy she owns the school record, Sweeney's goal is to keep breaking it and improving on it. Her goal is to break 19 minutes, too, and she believes she's close.
"I'm not there yet, but my times have finally started dropping," Sweeney said. "The last meet I got a 19:30ish so my times are finally starting to drop so who knows where I'll be the end of the season."
If anyone can do it, Fuhrman believes it will be Sweeney. He said she has confidence and knowledge of what it takes to make that goal happen.
"For her, she knows it takes a lot of hard work and a lot of miles to log," he said. "We're not a high-milage program. We're mid-distance. But she knows, this is her third year, and she knows progressive training she has to work a little bit harder than she was the year before because that's in the past. She's pretty good at that.
"She was peaking at the right time last year and I think she's going to peak at the right time this year. It's going to come right at the section meet. "
Other notable performances:
Swimming and diving: Alice Foote, Little Falls, won the 50- and 100-yard freestyles against Sartell and Milaca and in the Section 6-1A True Team meet.
Lili Schneider, Staples-Motley, won the 100-yard freestyle and breastroke against Fosston and the 100 free against Detroit Lakes.
Volleyball: Bailey Wynn, Pine River-Backus, finished with 15 kills, 11 digs, six blocks and four ace serves against Hill City.
Shyanne Loiland, Crosby-Ironton, finished with 16 kills, 16 set assists, 13 digs, three blocks and two ace serves against Aitkin.
Casey Volkmann, Wadena-Deer Creek, finished with 18 kills, 12 digs, four set assists, two blocks and one ace serve.
Sydney Berg, Little Falls, finished with 36 kills, 21 digs and two ace serves at the Long Prairie-Grey Eagle Tournament.