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Rugby's Kraft sets the pace

Sophomore runner ready to defend title

August 28, 2009
Matt Mullally

Winning a state title is hard to do.

Defending it is even harder, and that's the challenge ahead for Rugby sophomore Sydney Kraft as she begins her third cross country season.

Kraft, who became the first-ever Panther to win an individual CC title, will have the eyes of the competition on her everywhere she runs this season.

And she knows it. "There is more pressure (on me),'' Kraft said.

Sydney ran nearly every day in the summer to be in great shape come the start of the season, noting there are going to be several good runners returning this fall, many from the area.

In fact, eight of the top 10 state finishers return to compete, and

as a result of that stiff competition, Kraft has decided to concentrate solely on CC and not play volleyball as she did the past three years.

"Splitting my time between both sports is hard and makes for a lot of long days,'' Sydney said.

Winning builds confidence, and in addition to her CC title, Sydney won the 800 and 1600 meter titles at the Class B state track meet this past spring. She has indeed vaulted herself to a place among the state's best distance runners.

Oddly enough, Kraft didn't think of herself as a distance runner just a few years ago.

"I didn't run cross country in seventh grade because I didn't think of myself as a distance runner,'' she said. "I was a sprinter."

It wasn't until the end of her seventh grade track season that coach Bill Jansen put Sydney in some distance events, and it was then her potential as a distance runner showed.

Kraft came out for CC in eighth grade and quickly became the team's top runner, eventually earning a 13th place finish at state.

Last year her goal was a top 10 finish, but by the midway point of the season she was rated the top Class B runner in the state by state coaches and entered the Class B state meet on the heels of an East Region title and was the favorite to win the state crown.

Sydney did just that and now will look to do it again.

-Matt Mullally



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