Despite injuries, sophomore Mae Fullerton excels at State


photo courtesy of Mae Fullerton

In her first year running cross-country, Fullerton became the first BSM runner since 2004-2005 to reach the state tournament.

Making it to state in any sport is anaccomplishment, but sophomore Mae Fullerton overcame the odds, and shin splints, to become the first runner since 2004-2005 to represent BSM at State for cross-country.

Fullerton had been a soccer player for nine years, but decided to take up a new challenge in cross-country. “I was tired of doing soccer for so long and loved track practice, so I thought I should try something new,” Fullerton said.

While being a first year runner is a challenge in itself, Fullerton battled shin splints throughout the season. “I would get them on and off after a race or if we had been doing repetitive hill workouts, but the longest period was probably about a weekand a half to two,” Fullerton said.

While shin splints do not prevent runners from running, they cause pain, and Fullerton consulted her coaches for advice on the nagging injury. “They told me to constantly be rolling them out before and after workouts and to ice for 15 minutes about every hour while doing my homework,” Fullerton said.

There was an immense amount of effort put into conquering the shin splints and at the Milaca Mega Meet, one of the largest cross country meets in the state, Fullerton decided to race despite having one of her worst cases of shin splints. She raced her best race of the season (14:58) and broke aBSM school record.“When we went to Milaca, Mae had talked herself out of the race. We were able to get the shin splints under control and keep pushing the envelope to get better,” head coach Casey Hanson said.

Fullerton’s recovery served as motivation for the team as they had one of the most successful seasons in program history.The team took first place at the Mankato East Invite for the first time in nine years,and at the Conference Championship meet, the team was able to achieve second place.“She definitely raised the intensity level. I think the way she pushes herself asa really top-notch competitor affects others as well,” junior teammate Mary Pat Ross said.

Fullerton qualified for the state meet at sections Wednesday, Oct. 30 competing in one of the toughest sections in the state.She finished the section race with atime of 15:18.6 and finished in 16th place which was good enough for her to qualify for the Class AA meet. “It was something I wanted to try for, but I was still really excited to qualify,” Fullerton said.

Preparing for the race, Fullerton worked with her coaches to simulate the hilly terrain she would be facing at the state meet. She practiced at full-speed but the coaches did not push her too hard, so that she could go into the state meet with energized legs.The state meet was held Saturday, Nov.2 at St. Olaf College in Northfield. The top 176 class AA runners in the state raced a4,000 meter (2.5 mile) run, and the top 25 individual finishes received All-State honors.

Fullerton finished the race with a time of 15:28.7, finishing 78th. Although she did not finish in the top 25 or receive All-Statehonors, she lived up to Coach Hanson’s expectations.“I was really excited to be able to get the experience this year, but I was also nervous. Hopefully I’ll be able to use this for next year and do better,” Fullerton said.