Hodsden and cross country team look to continue successful season at regional meet

Tiger Media Network

Achieving both individual and team success this season has been fun for Regan Hodsden, and her excitement for the remaining races is only increasing.

Last week, Hodsden became the first runner from the Fort Hays women’s cross country program to win an individual MIAA title. She is now preparing for the Central Region Championships, with hopes of qualifying for nationals for the second year in a row.

“I’m excited,” Hodsden said. “I feel like sometimes people get to this point in the season where they’re just tired, and for me I feel like this is when I get the most excited because it’s super competitive.”

Making it to nationals last year as an at-large qualifier was something that motivated Hodsden going into this season.

“I knew coming in this summer I wanted to train hard so this year I didn’t necessarily have to worry about that,” she said. 

Hodsden was performing well last season, placing in the top five or six at a majority of the meets. That success was taken to another level this year through a culmination of hard work, motivation and consistent progress, which resulted in three first-place finishes.

“Over time the more consistent you are, the stronger you are,” she said. “Even from starting college to now I feel like I’m a stronger runner and I’m able to handle more miles and harder workouts.”

Hodsden’s mental strength played just as big of a role in her conference win as her physical strength did. She sees getting up in the morning to train during the summer and a winning mindset as some of the keys to finishing in first place.

“Going into races you never know how anybody’s going to race,” she said. “You just have to be ready for anything and ready to compete. Learning how to race and knowing how your body’s going to handle it, and just going out there and doing the best you can.”

Head Coach Jason McCullough also attributes Hodsden’s success to her commitment.

“She’s just been super consistent and we see a lot of improvement when you can do those things,” he said.

Her commitment can also be seen in the way she has stepped into a leadership role as one of the upperclassmen.

“She gets up early, does all the runs, has a good attitude and puts in the work,” McCullough said. “She’s a leader by example and those are really important to have.”

Consistency over the past few years has been the key for the entire women’s team, who have finished in the top five at every meet this season, including three first-place finishes. According to McCullough, other factors in their success are enjoyment and satisfaction in the sport. 

While for a runner that may mean putting in the work and seeing results, those results are not always linear.

“Sometimes people get better and then they get injured or they have a little down spell,” McCullough said. “To see that improvement, whether it’s consistent or in spurts, is really important to a runner. I think our girls have seen that. We’ve had some injuries over the years, we’ve had some setbacks, but they’re really starting to see some improvements now and that’s really fun to see.”

McCullough also acknowledged the importance of a good team dynamic.

“If you’re just out there for yourself it’s pretty easy to lose motivation and it’s pretty easy to slack off,” he said. “But if you’re working for somebody else and realize that their success is based on how you run and how hard you work, it brings you up to another level.”

Hodsden can attest to this, as she finds having a good team to train with keeps her accountable. She also wants her competitiveness to rub off on the younger runners.

“Our team is younger,” she said. “So by giving them the opportunity to see what success can be like and to motivate them, hopefully in the future even when I’m not here they’re still doing well and wanting to win and compete.”

The team will compete this weekend at the Central Region Championships with the race set to begin at 10 a.m. Saturday in Joplin, Missouri.