Name: Bria Bennis
School: York, senior
Sport: Cross country
Why she was selected: Bennis took second place at the Palatine Meet of Champions in 17 minutes, 4.5 seconds, leading York to the team championship over runner-up Louisville Assumption and third-place Prospect. She was voted the Athlete of the Week in an online vote by readers. Here is her interview with Sports Editor Joshua Welge.
Welge: How did you feel about the race at Palatine?
Bennis: That race is a really competitive one, there were a lot of good individuals and, of course, Prospect as our other team going against. It was a big meet, we all raced well, we focused on going through the first mile as tight together as possible. My teammates did a good job as a pack, only three seconds back of me going through the first mile. From there I tried to move my way up to the lead pack and pass as many girls as possible. Through the first mile I was fifth or sixth, ended up finishing second.
Welge: How good was it to compete with Prospect?
Bennis: Racing against them is really good practice for state. They are an amazing team and can really push us. We haven’t had quite as much competition in years past. This year, they are really good, it’s an evenly split matchup and we push each other.
Welge: How do you feel about the start to your season?
Bennis: I’m really excited about the start to the year. I know that I personally have been racing faster this September than last year. At Palatine I was 0.4 seconds from my state PR last year. It gives me confidence that as I progress this season I can get faster than last year, hopefully have my faster races yet. As for the team, I’m really proud of them, we had a girl at Palatine who PR’d, Michaela Quinn. Just in general, everybody is racing well. At least our top four, they’re all juniors and seniors. We have all matured a little bit in terms of nerves and preparation.
Welge: I read that not only would you like to repeat as state champs, your team would like to set a record at state. What are your aspirations for the season?
Bennis: Our big thing this year is first to win state. We are focusing on that for sure. After that we want to compete at Nike Cross Regionals and qualify for Nationals. The past two years that we have won state, Nike Cross Nationals has been canceled. It would be special and cool to go to Oregon and compete against the best of the nation. That would be the topper on the cake.
Welge: Besides running, do you have any hobbies or passions?
Bennis: I’m co-founder of the No Frill Kids Fun Run in Elmhurst. There is an adult charity run that happens annually to raise money for beneficiaries but you had to be over 18 to participate. Me and one other woman started a run for kids. It goes to the same beneficiaries. It’s really, really cool. I think to date we have raised over $10,000.