By Molly Schreier
As senior Polina Sobol crossed the finish line at the 5000 meter for the Spike Shoe Invitational September 23rd, she was not worried about her place–she was worried about her hair. “My hair went out! Like my hair tie flew off and my hair went floush! It was terrible.” Not too terrible, though, as she finished 10th place, out of 146 women varsity runners.
Polina has seen great success this season. Her time at Spike Shoe, 22:06.29, occurred in ninety-degree heat. At the Howard County Invitational, she placed 24th in 21:29.4, a three-mile personal record. Most recently, Polina placed 8th at the Crossfire Invite, beating her time at Spike Shoe and setting a new personal record for 5000 meters, 21:20.9.
Coach Williams has been impressed with her growth this season. “She’s doing awesome. She’s doing fantastic. In years past, she kind of struggled a little bit with cross country. I don’t think she had enough confidence in herself, and now she’s doing really well. She’s actually the only girl that’s on the varsity team, so she runs all the races by herself. She’s learned how to run smart, so she starts out a little slow and then she builds her progress. She’s really just taken it bull by the horns, pretty impressive.”
From previous seasons, Polina has drastically improved her times. From 2016’s Howard County Invitational to this year’s event, Polina shaved off over two minutes from her time and went from 87th place to 24th. Last season, Polina’s health played a role in her performance. “I had an iron deficiency, so I would almost pass out in every single race I ran. And this year I’m all good, I don’t even notice when the first mile passes.” Coach Williams credits Polina’s confidence. “I think she has more confidence in herself. I don’t think that she believed that she could do what she’s done.” Not to mention all of her summer workouts: “She’s stayed healthy, she trained all summer. In the past she’s done that, but I think that this summer she took it a lot more serious, to the next level.”
Polina plays an important role within the cross country team, as well. Junior Sydney Woodward praised her initiative as a captain this season: “She works with new coach and with the other captain to come up with harder runs so our team can push ourselves more and we can get better. Our team is improving from what we were like last year.”
Polina will race in one more invitational before participating in counties and (hopefully) states. Her running career is far from over, though: she runs indoor track and outdoor track in the winter and spring, and plans to run in college.