Austin runners Madison Overby and Haley Splinter, right, are heading to their third Minnesota State Cross Country Meet next Saturday, showing just how far the two have come since running in their first state meet three years ago. Eric Johnson/

Rookies no more

Published 7:00pm Saturday, October 27, 2012

Austin runners are back to state with an agenda

It wasn’t so long ago that Austin runners Haley Splinter and Madison Overby were wide-eyed newcomers to the Class ‘AA’ state cross country meet.

But things have taken a major change over the last three years. This Saturday, Overby, a freshman, and Splinter, a senior, will look like seasoned veterans as they will each be making their third career trips to the state meet, and they’re both hoping for a good showing.

Splinter is especially inspired, as she finished 46th at state as a freshman, didn’t finish due to injury at state as a sophomore, and she missed out on state last year due to a medical condition that caused her to suffer fatigue.

“I’ve got a lot to do at state this year,” Splinter said. “I have a lot of expectations for myself, and I hope I can finish my career on a high note. With the improvement I had this year over last year, it just feels good to be back.”

Overby took 89th as a seventh grader at state and she finished 20th to earn All-State honors last season.

Austin cross country runners Haley Splinter and Madison Overby stretch before going on a practice run Friday afternoon. Both girls are making their third trip to the Minnesota State Cross Country Meet next Saturday. Eric Johnson/

But this year has been a bit of a whirlwind for Overby, as she was recovering from heat exhaustion in Austin’s first meet, where the temperature were in the 80s. She fought off a cold to run in the Section 1AA meet Thursday in Owatonna, where the temperatures dipped in the low 30s.

“It’s been like a roller coaster; it’s crazy. We’ve gone from one extreme to the next,” Overby said. “I think I’ve got a cold, and I’ve kind of had it for the past week. It’s been affecting my running a little bit, but I’m sure it’ll be gone by state.”

The state meet may seem to be routine for a pair of runners who have competed there twice already, but Splinter and Overby said the nerves still come into play.

That might not be a bad thing.

“There’s always that hint of doubt or excitement,” Splinter said. “I think it helps.”

Splinter and Overby will have each other to lean on before and after the race, and they said that takes some of the pressure off.

While they may not be able to run together during the race, due to the high number of runners, Splinter and Overby will find ways to help each other out.

“Having a teammate makes everything easier,” Splinter said. “You have someone to talk to, and you’re not standing on the line by yourself.”

Overby improved last season at state, as she finished 69 spots better than she did in her first appearance.

She’s hoping to finish in the top-25 again this season.

“I’m going to run my heart out and hopefully get back to the all-state. I feel about the same this year (as last year),” she said. “It’s still scary.”

Overby and Splinter will run at 2 p.m. Saturday at St. Olaf College in Northfield.

The Running Rundown

•Aug. 28: 6-team invite in Austin — Overby (second, 15:40); Splinter (sixth, 16:17)

•Sept. 6: 14-team meet in Hayfield — Overby (first, 15:41.2); Splinter (eighth, 16:30.10)

•Sept. 13: 20-team meet in Rochester — Overby (sixth, 15:25.04); Splinter (23rd, 16:11.19)

•Sept. 18: 8-team meet in Lake City — Overby (first, 15:03.95.1); Splinter (fourth, 15:25.41)

•Sept. 22: 20-team meet in Milaca — Overby (seventh, 15:02.1); Splinter (15th, 15:33.6)

•Sept. 26: 5-team meet in Mankato — Splinter (first, 15:32.2); Overby (did not compete)

•Oct. 9: 7-team meet in Austin — Overby (first, 15:02.36); Splinter (third, 15:15.88)

•Oct. 16: 10-team Big Nine meet in Owatonna — Overby (second, 15:09.3); Splinter (third, 15:18.2)

•Oct. 25: 16-team Section 1A meet in Owatonna — Splinter (sixth, 15:16.8); Overby (seventh, 15:18.1)


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