FORT WAYNE – Olivia Hippensteel has long been a leader for the Carroll girls cross country team in competition, and this season, as a senior, she has expanded her leadership role off the course.
We (the seniors) have definitely had to take on the role of leaders, she said. Last year we had a taste of what that was like, but this year I think we have really learned how to be good (role) models of sportsmanship and attitude for the younger girls. There is so much more involved in being a leader than running well.
And it’s been a good run for Hippensteel and the No. 3 Chargers heading into Saturday’s New Haven Semistate at The Plex North. Last Saturday at West Noble, Carroll won its 12th straight regional title, which is just two off the state record. Carroll has developed over the years into the premier cross country program – girls and boys – in northeast Indiana, and Hippensteel has been a big part of it
My experience there has not only taught me how to be a successful runner, but my coaches have truly been the best people in my life, Hippensteel said.
I have also been blessed with teammates that share the same drive and ambition, not only that, but I can without a doubt call them my best friends.Hippensteel, an 800-meter runner in track, has adapted to the longer distance (3.1 miles) in cross country. Her personal-best time of 18:41 ranks her fifth in school history. She has been part of the school’s 3,200 relay team and has a personal-best of 2:14 in the 800.
And the two-time team captain’s leadership has helped the younger runners, such as freshman Madison Fruchey and junior Coral Whaley.
She’s really blossomed this year as an extremely versatile runner and has really accepted her role as a leader in cross country, Carroll coach Zach Raber said. She’s a year-round runner, and it’s helped her establish a great running base to be successful in cross country. I think she’s a mentor for all the girls on the team and has willingly been there to help in practices, meets and even in the classroom for some of our struggling runners. Madison is a pretty accomplished runner in her own right, so I wouldn’t necessarily say she’s mentored her as a runner, but they have definitely progressed together because of the presence of each other.