Last year, as a freshman, Dublin Scioto's Audrey Bannister caught fire. During the regular season, she announced her arrival amongst the top central Ohio runners with her runner-up finish at the Celtic Clash in 18:00.23. The big finishes just kept coming from there:
- Heading into the post-season, she was OCC-Cardinal conference runner-up in 18:48.
- At districts, she finished 5th in 18:39, leading her team.
- She finished 6th in the region in 18:44, qualifying for the state meet.
- A week later, she finished 37th in the OHSAA Div 1 state championships in 18:51.
As the 2018 XC season heats up, we caught up with the Scioto sophomore to see what makes her tick:
CRC: How did you get started as a runner? What drew you into the sport?
Audrey Bannister: I started running on my middle school’s cross country team in the seventh grade after running the Dublin Irish Fest 5k for the first time over the summer. My sister had been running cross country for some time, but I had always played soccer and never really considered running since I wasn’t sure how I would do. After running that first 5K, I realized that running was something I enjoyed and that I wanted to continue doing it.
CRC: What has been your biggest achievement as a runner?
AB: At the moment, racing at the Celtic Clash and running an 18 minute 5k has been my biggest achievement as a runner. I remember trying really hard to stay with another runner who I had heard was quick, but I had never tried to race with her. This race, I decided to stay with her, and that led me to break my PR by a lot.
CRC: What has been your biggest challenge as a runner?
AB: My biggest challenge as a runner has been the fact that I am a student as well. It’s hard managing school and sports as well as the stress I put on myself to get good grades and run well. I am my own worst critic so I can be pretty hard on myself.
CRC: What's it like being part of the Dublin Scioto XC program?
AB: Being a part of the Scioto XC team is so much fun! I love my teammates. We’re like a family, and my coaches are really supportive as well. I love that we can have fun together, but when it’s time to put in work to improve ourselves as runners, we can be more serious and focused on the task at hand.
CRC: When you're getting ready for a big race, do you have any superstitions or pump-up songs? Other than your warmup routine itself, what do you do to prep for races?
AB: As a team, we have a pre-race superstition not to show our uniforms until we hit the race line. I think it is like an “okay, now it’s go time” symbol when we line up and reveal our uniforms. I try to stay as relaxed as possible so that I don’t stress out before a big race. To do this, I love dancing around with my friends, especially to Britney Spears’ Toxic. To prepare for races, I try to stay hydrated and to have eaten beforehand, but I tend to stay away from dairy before racing. While racing, I don’t wear a watch because I don’t like to obsess over my time.
CRC: You've been running as a Grasshopper coach over your summers. What's it like to work with the kids, and what draws you to work with the young runners?
AB: I really enjoy working as a Grasshopper coach because I think it is super fun to be able to work with kids who are willing to try out this awesome sport! Obviously, there are some kids that don’t have as much fun running, so I’m there to make sure they have a great time while they learn how to better themselves as runners. What draws me to work with the kids is the fact that I love helping others, and I love to see how far they have come.
CRC: Finally, what piece of advice would you give to upcoming runners who are looking to reach those same goals that you're hitting?
AB: Practice, practice, practice! If you want to better yourself as a runner, make sure that you stick to it and practice often. Make sure to listen to your body - work hard on days that should be hard, but take it easy on days that should be easy. Remember it is good to take a break, so make sure you rest at least one day in your week.