Running fast runs in her blood

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Taylor Clapp

With a background in soccer, junior Sydni Wilkins was used to running. However, her instant success in cross country wasn’t expected. “I never ever expected that I would be as successful as I have been this season,” she said. “It definitely keeps me pushing to see how far cross country can take me.”

By Haley Ward, Liberty High School - TX

For many young athletes, it takes years to succeed in a sport, but junior Sydni Wilkins found instant success with the Redhawks cross country team. Now she hopes to continue that success at Warren Park on Thursday for the District 9-5A Meet.

Earning top finishes in several meets, including first place finishes at the Southlake Carroll Invitational and the Ken Gaston Invitational, running fast over grass and hills runs in Sydni’s blood. 

My biggest inspiration is definitely my mom. I definitely would not have even thought about running cross if it wasn’t for her,”

— junior Sydni Wilkins

“My biggest inspiration is definitely my mom,” she said. “She ran cross country in high school and has been encouraging me to do it for so long. I definitely would not have even thought about running cross if it wasn’t for her.”

Noticing Sydni’s speed and running form on the soccer field, mom Debbi Wilkins saw the potential in her daughter.

“As a parent, you always want to encourage your kids to do things that they like and things that they will have fun doing,” mom Debbi Wilkins said. “I always thought she should try cross country, but she never wanted to her freshman or sophomore year. I ran cross country in high school and knew she had a really good running form. We never pushed her to do it, but are so happy she decided to try it this year.”

For many cross country runners, success is built upon miles and miles of training, with some runners putting in more than 50 miles a week during the summer.

“I’ve been running and playing sports all my life but I started taking it seriously and consistently training this summer,” Sydni said. “I played soccer for about ten years so I’ve always been in decent athletic shape.”

Playing soccer on campus for two years in addition to playing with the Texas Spurs, Sydni was used to running, but her ability to win varsity cross country meets, while dropping her time from 18:49 to 18:24, wasn’t expected. 

“She’s been a surprise with her success, but she’s a super dedicated kid who has really put in the work and she has become a leader on our team. So the success she’s having is a direct reflection of the person that she is,” girls’ cross country coach Khera Vay said. “When Sydni was a freshman I tried begging her to run cross country, and I kept begging her when she was a sophomore, and I’m really happy that she has come out.”

When Sydni was a freshman I tried begging her to run cross country, and I kept begging her when she was a sophomore, and I’m really happy that she has come out,”

— girls’ cross country coach Khera Vay

With a shot at qualifying for the UIL 5A Region II Meet on Oct. 25, Sydni is aiming for a top finish Thursday. 

“I never ever expected that I would be as successful as I have been this season,” she said. “It definitely keeps me pushing to see how far cross country can take me.”

Regardless of what Sydni places at districts, her mom is proud of the qualities she has shown this season.

“I think my number one reaction would have to be amazement and pride,” Debbi said. “Her focus, physical strength, and mental strength are amazing. These qualities are truly what makes a difference between runners. The greatest joy I have is watching her succeed and love what she is doing, and she loves running.”

This story was originally published on Wingspan on October 12, 2022.