Cross Country: Strongsville High School at States

Navya Chauhan, Journalist

     Strongsville High School cross country had an amazing season this year with two runners advancing to the OHSAA State Tournament to compete at Obetz, Ohio. Julia Isham (junior) and John Yarwood (senior) both had the incredible feat of getting All Ohio by being one of the 248 runners, boys and girls included, in the state of Ohio given the opportunity to run at states. 

     The entire varsity cross country team advanced from districts to regionals where they competed against the best teams in Northeast Ohio and, sadly, narrowly missed the chance to advance to States. However, the entire team was with Julia and John, physically or in spirit, when they raced at Obetz. Both runners placed incredibly high at regionals, despite the muddy conditions, with Julia placing 4th, and John sprinting to the finish line to get a place of 31st. 

     Previous to running cross country, Julia Isham was a soccer player who ran long distances to get in shape for soccer season. The tough mental strength that came with playing soccer was useful in running the mentally and physically challenging 5-kilometer race (3.1 miles). “In order to persevere through runs, I need to accept the pain. There is no way to put it lightly, your legs are going to burn during the race or even during workouts, but you need to realize that pain is temporary and that you need to push through in order for it to stop,” she responded when asked how she got through tough meets. Using this mindset, Julia pushed her way throughout the race and placed an astonishing 26th place with a season personal record of 18:40.5. “My placement at states is not what I wanted, I kicked it too early when I was in 15th place and the lactic acid started to build up very quickly and my legs got really heavy, so I ended up in 26th place. I’m still happy I got All Ohio but I know I can do better which is what aggravates me, I put a lot of pressure on myself but I know next year I’ll be ready,” she said about her performance at states. 

     John Yarwood, a current senior, narrowly made it to States. However, his outstanding performance at Obetz says quite the contrary. He clocked a personal all-time best of 16:16.2, finishing in 68th place against the top 128 runners in all of Ohio. John started running at the young age of seven with a Disney Channel special as his inspiration. “I became interested in running when I saw a Disney Channel special about a kid and his siblings who ran cross country. It got me thinking about running, and I joined cross country the following fall,” he said when asked about how his cross country career started. To prepare for meets, John makes sure to get his fill of carbs and sleep the night before a race. His technique of mentally preparing himself by not thinking about the race to prevent unwanted nerves proved to be the key in his outstanding performance throughout the season. While he prefers to be mentally focused on running during meets, his practice days are quite the opposite. To entertain himself, John enjoys talking with others on long-run days to speed up the long hours of running. 

     Overall, John and Julia have had an outstanding season this year with their performance at states and consistency throughout the season. We are excited to see how Julia performs the rest of this school year during track season and her performance next year as a senior. While John is a senior this year, he will continue to show great things finishing up his high school running career and graduating in 2022.