Sophomore Paige Hercules and Senior Maggie Hillmann Prepare For State


Credit to Savannah Wandzel

Senior Maggie Hillmann runs in a varsity cross country meet for FHN.

By Patty O'Leary

Sophomore Paige Hercules and senior Maggie Hillmann have worked relentlessly all season. Through all of their highs and lows they have powered through all of their obstacles to get to where they are now. The two girl’s Sectional placings, 6th place for Hercules and 16th place for Hillmann, sprung them all the way to the Missouri State cross country meet which is the sweet pay off for all the time, effort and focus they’ve invested into the sport.

“I was just so happy with my outcome of the race,” Hercules said. “Seeing Maggie do so well made me even more happy too. We are extremely excited.”

Going to state as a lone runner is a major milestone for the two. Even though they are competing as individuals, they are extremely grateful to have each other by their side to push and encourage themselves. Although much of cross country is an individual sport, it is extremely beneficial for cross country athletes to have a partner at their side.

“I’m so happy to have Maggie by my side,” Hercules said. “She is one of my really close friends and I’m so grateful that we worked as hard as we did to get to where we are.”

This year is both of the girl’s first time competing at State for cross country. For Hillmann, this is also her first year participating in cross country and for Hercules this is her second year.

“It’s definitely very nerve-racking,” Hercules said. “I went to state last year to watch Heidi Hauptman [senior cross country athlete] and I didn’t see myself ever being able to run at state. It will be really scary when I first get there but I’m already so excited.”

With state inching closer and closer, the girls have created goals for the meet, to help them mentally close in on what they want to do before and while they are competing. The goals they’ve set are mostly related to staying mentally prepared and excited for the meet as opposed to being nervous and anxious.

“I’m just so happy to be going there,” Hercules said. “I just want to run the race as hard as I can and to leave it all out on the course. It’s really just a mental race at this point so we really are trying to focus on that.”