Sweat drips down her face, but she pushes through, crossing the finish line just seconds before her competitor follows.
Junior Sophia Mills earned 20 place out of 222 total runners at the Stanford Invitational cross country race on Sept. 28.
She beat her personal record from the end of last season, running the entire 5K in 19:41. Her fastest mile time is 5:09.
But running did not just come to Mills. She had to go out there and find it, and work for it.
“I was never very dedicated to the sport when I started in middle school,” she said. “I began to realize how much I really wanted to continue trying to improve my running in high school.”
Mills first started running in middle school, where she participated on the track team all three years and an joined the cross country team in eighth grade.
“I love running because there is nothing that compares to crossing the finish line after a tough race and knowing that you ran your best,” she said. “It’s also an incredibly rewarding sport, and I love that running has both an individual and a team aspect.”
Mills is currently the captain of the Piedmont cross country team.
“What I like best about our team is that we all have different strengths, which helps us to motivate and push each other during both practices and races,” she said.
Sophomore Sophie Reynolds, who is on the varsity cross country team with Mills, appreciates Mills presence on the team.
“Sophia is the top runner on varsity and a very dedicated team captain,” Reynolds said. “She helps push the team to do their best everyday.”
Cross Country Coach Jeanine Holmlund, “Coach B”, also values Mills’ contribution to the team.
“She has a soft spoken demeanor and humble personality making her very approachable even though she’s the fastest female on our team,” Holmlund said. “She offers good advice to me as a new coach to the team and to her team mates.”
Holmlund said the team shows a lot of teamwork, working together to better each one of them.
“I was immediately impressed by the inclusiveness and friendships on the team enabling the students to compete against each other and work together at the same time,” she said.