Born to Run: Lewis and Schwab have stepped up for Packer CC team

Published 9:56 pm Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Abby Lewis, left, and Paiton Schwab, right, of the Austin cross country team are off to a solid start this season with the Packers. -- Rocky Hulne/

Abby Lewis, left, and Paiton Schwab, right, of the Austin cross country team are off to a solid start this season with the Packers. — Rocky Hulne/

It was a cold, dark and wet morning outside Austin High School. Temperatures were dipping into the 40s and the rain was pouring.

That didn’t stop Austin freshman Paiton Schwab and eighth grader Abby Lewis from going on a 6 a.m. run of four miles Wednesday morning. Some who saw Schwab and Lewis may have thought they were crazy, but the two cross country runners are perfectly sane. They’re just really dedicated.

Schwab and Lewis have been two of the top three runners on an Austin girls cross country team that won the Big Nine title last year and has hopes of repeating that feat this year. On Saturday, the Packers lost their top runner Madison Overby to injury at the Roy Griak Invite and the team still managed to finish 11th in the meet, which features squads from multiple states.

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“It’s a pretty big deal. Abby finished seventh in a pretty tough field and it’s been fun watching her develop this season,” Austin head coach Tony Einertson said. “All of the young girls are really stepping up and we’re going to need them over the next couple of weeks. Hopefully they’ll continue to improve. It’s fun to watch them.”

Overby is expected to miss at least two weeks with a sprained ankle and Lewis and Schwab will have to pick up the leadership slack in her absence.

Distance running takes a special kind of mentality and the Packer girls cross country team seems to have it down. Schwab said the team doesn’t think so much about how hard it is to get up and run, as much as it thinks about getting better.

“We push each other and we help each other get better. We stay positive,” Schwab said. “We’re ranked to win the Big Nine and as far as getting to state, it’s going to be whatever happens happens. It’s going to take a lot of heart.”

Lewis has made big strides this season and Einertson said she’s decreased her times by a minute from where she was last year. The Griak Invite was a big lift for her confidence.

“It was a confidence builder to see how well we placed [as a team] with that many people there,” Lewis said. “It takes a lot of endurance and it’s a lot of hard work.”

Schwab and Lewis have had plenty of success this season and they’re aiming to finish even stronger. Einertson sees that as a real possibility.

“They know they’re in a good spot right now, but they both know there’s room for improvement,” he said. “Paiton is a little dissatisfied, but she’s getting there. Abby’s in new territory as the season has gone along she’s gotten stronger and stronger. She’s starting to close that gap with Madison.”

Austin will have a big meet in Owatonna Thursday as most of the Big Nine teams will be present. It will give the Packers young runners a chance to step up in the absence of Overby.

“Morgan Hose is running really well, Chloe Justice is stepping up and Tasia Martinson is running well,” Einertson said. “We’re really coming around and we’re going to get a pretty good test tomorrow without Madison.”