Fairbanks cross-country runners Rachael Hoover, left, and Amelia Cameron get in a jog earlier this week. Both will compete in the Division III girls state meet today, 10 a.m., at Fortress Obetz in Columbus. (Journal-Tribune photo by Tim Miller)
One runner will conclude her high school career, while another is really just getting started.
That’s the status for Fairbanks High School senior Amelia Cameron and freshman Rachael Hoover.
The girls will compete at 10 a.m. today in the Division III state cross-country meet.
Competition will be held at Fortress Obetz in Columbus.
Cameron, who was a four-time regional qualifier (twice at Village Academy and two years at FHS), will be making her third trip to the state meet.
She qualified as an individual once while at Village Academy in Powell and last year as a member of the entire Lady Panther squad.
Cameron finished 15th during last week’s regional meet at Pickerington North High School with a time of 20:27, while Hoover was 18th in 20:28.
The Journal-Tribune sat down with them for a recent interview.
Both felt their regional races were “OK,” but said, “we have a lot left in the tank for the state meet.”
Running in muddy conditions at Pickerington North, both girls felt the regional was one of the hardest races they’ve ever run.
“We pushed with the pack as best as we could,” said Cameron.
Being the veteran of the pair, Cameron feels her state experience will help on Saturday.
“Even though it’s going to be on a new course, I think I have a good idea of what the race will look like,” she said.
In previous years, the state meet was held at National Trail Raceway in Hebron.
“From what I understand, Fortress Obetz is a little more flat of a course,” said Cameron.
Cameron has also been a mentor to Hoover this fall.
“I’ve gotten a lot better with my pacing during races,” said Hoover. “Amelia has really helped me with my training.”
Cameron currently holds the Fairbanks High School girls record with a time of 19:43.
“I’d like to set another school record on Saturday in my final high school race,” said Cameron.
“I’d like to do that,” she smiled, “before she (nodding toward Hoover) obliterates it at some point in the next couple of years.”
“I would like to run a sub-20 minutes,” said Hoover, who started her career on the Fairbanks Middle School team. “I’d like to get closer to Amelia’s school record.”
“I feel I’ve improved a great deal during my freshman season and I just want to keep doing that.
“I think my endurance has improved and I’m in better shape with my training at the end of the season,” said Hoover.
Today’s weather forecast predicts some of the best conditions for the state meet in many, many years.
Mother Nature is supposed to bless runners with sunny skies and a temperature around 70.
“We’ve run in a lot of different weather this year,” said Hoover. “It was very hot at the beginning of the season.
“We then had meets where there was a lot of wind and mud.”
“The weather sounds great for the state meet,” said Cameron. “With that in mind, I think it’s going to be a very fast race.
“I think you’ll see a lot of low and sub 19-minute times.”
The top 20 runners will earn a trip to the state awards stand.
Although today will mark the final cross-country meet in Cameron’s high school career, she still plans to compete in the future.
“I plan to run on either a club status or with a varsity team in college,” she said. “I haven’t decided on a school as of now.
“However, I’m looking out west at either USC or Cal Poly.”
Cameron said she hopes to study either environmental or chemical engineering.
Hoover will wrap up her first high school cross-country season and then look to play on the Lady Panthers’ freshman basketball team.
Both girls hope there will be a 2021 outdoor track season, especially since the 2020 campaign was wiped out due to the coronavirus.
Fairbanks head coach Mike Van Winkle had plenty of accolades for both runners.
“Amelia has strong endurance and is an experienced high school cross-country runner,” he said. “She’s been a very consistent runner.”
Hoover, according to Van Winkle, is more of the speedster type of runner.
“Rachael went from the two-mile races in middle school to three miles in high school,” he said. “When her endurance catches up with her speed, she’s going to do some awesome things.”
Van Winkle also knows where the credit stands for the girls’ success.
“Great athletes make coaches look pretty good,” he laughed.