JACKSON TOWNSHIP, Ohio – Sophomore Sofia Isnick is a key player in the success of her high school’s cross country team.
Isnick is among the fastest runners on the team with a personal record of just under eighteen minutes for a 5K. She is also the school’s record holder for 800 meters.
“I usually try to take it out as moderately as I can used to be a fast starter that didn’t turn out very well so I just love to run so I keep a constant pace and that’s my race,” said Isnick.
During the regional meet this past weekend in Boardman the expectations were high and the team had been preparing a plan for the meet for several months.
“We won our league meet we won the stark county meet and we were building toward the regional meet and had what we thought was a solid plan,” said head coach Kevin Walsh.
The team prepared for Saturday’s meet by taping their shoes, to make sure they stayed on, as they were anticipating mud along the course.
“I actually, I felt amazing at the beginning. The first 600 meters we went up this massive hill and that was something I knew I had to overcome early,” said Isick.
“She was doing a great job. She had visualized the plan and the first 600 meters couldn’t have gone any better and then, as I have told people, panic definitely set in,” said Walsh.
200 meters later Walsh said he looked up, expecting to see Isnick near the front but she wasn’t there.
“I look at the lead pack and I start scanning and I was like, ‘where did she go?’ And then all of a sudden I see her behind that pack and she appears to be holding her shoe,” said Walsh.
Isnick says after about 600 meters another runner stepped on her foot, which caused her right shoe to come off.
It was the shoe on which she had tied the timing chip she needed to record her time at the finish line.
The tape, which was put on the shoes to keep them from coming off, was now preventing Isnick from putting it back on her foot.
“I attempted to get it on and it didn’t work so I took it off and then later on my coach had me try to put it on again. My hands were shaky, it wasn’t going very well, so I just jumped back in the race,” said Isnick.
Then, wearing only one shoe, Isnick says she knew she needed to do whatever she could to catch the runners she was expected to be with while running over stones and twigs in just a sock.
“The grass was flat in some parts, so that was ok. But there was a little bit of gravel and rocks and then definitely some twigs on the floor of the forest or the trees that we went through, so that started to get to me and I just had to block it out and take the pain because it was for my team,” she added.
“I remember screaming at Sofia, very calmly, with about 800 meters to go that we need every single point and you have to pass as many as you can because at that point I wasn’t sure we were going to make it,” said Walsh.
“The finish, it was just I had to dig deep and go as fast as I could without the shoe,” said Isnick.
Carrying the shoe through the finish line Isnick finished third among her teammates, their times enough to qualify their team for the state meet in Columbus this coming weekend.
Walsh says they now have a plan to deal with the same problem should it happen again.
Isnick says she did suffer some bruises on her right foot as a result of the race, but expects everything to be fine for the state competition.
“I iced it that day and kind of put it in hot water, soaked my foot, and definitely stayed off my foot the Sunday after the race just to prepare for states,” she said. “Hopefully it doesn’t happen again.”