Record Newspapers Athlete of the Week: Sophia Keeler, Yorkville, cross country, junior

Yorkville’s Sophia Keeler takes sixth in the Girls Cross Country Southwest Prairie Conference Championship at Channahon Community Park on Friday.

Name: Sophia Keeler

School: Yorkville, junior

Sport: Cross country

Why she was selected: Keeler finished 33rd individually at the prestigious Roy Griak Invitational in Minnesota, leading the Foxes to seventh place as a team.

She was chosen as the Athlete of the Week in an online vote. Here is her interview with Joshua Welge.

Welge: How did you feel about your performance and the team’s performance at the Griak?

Keeler: I feel like as a team all the girls did amazing given the really difficult course. It is very challenging mentally and physically and everyone overcame those challenges.

Welge: What’s your strategy in a race like that with so many elite runners that maybe you don’t know? Did you have a goal in mind?

Keeler: From the beginning [Yorkville coach Chris] Muth had told us that because is is a very crowded race we had to get out faster than usual so at the start line my main focus was getting out fast and setting myself up in a good position. During all my races I try to stay calm and keep my breathing steady as long as possible.

Welge: How has your season gone? Any other highlights?

Keeler: I am happy with how my season has gone so far but of course I still want to work toward improving throughout the entire season. I would say a highlight is Minooka Flight – everyone racing at the open, fresh-soph and varsity levels put in all of their effort and it really showed when the varsity girls played first in the meet and the fresh-soph girls placed fifth.

Welge: For those that maybe don’t run cross country, what do you love about it and what got you into it – and at what age?

Keeler: Cross country is such an important sport to me. First of all because of the great team environment it has and even though during the practices and workouts it is very difficult it pays off seeing your times go down and the improvement you and others make throughout the season.

Welge: What’s your race day routine? What do you eat to be at peak running condition?

Keeler: Throughout the week I drink as much water as possible so I don’t get dehydrated during the race or practice. The night before a race I try to eat pasta or a good meal to feel my best in the morning. On race days I try to mentally go through my race to prepare for it but I also try not to stress too much about it beforehand and remember that I am prepared.

Welge: What’s your favorite TV show or movie?

Keeler: Probably New Girl is my favorite show.

Welge: What’s the last book you read?

Keeler: Lord of the Flies.