By Mark Ambrogi
Tessa Mize has made quite the impact as a freshman on Roncalli High School girls cross country team.
Mize and sophomore Ava Shirley are the first Roncalli girls to qualify for the state meet in 16 years.
“I couldn’t be more proud of the work that Tessa has done this year,” Royals coach Cathy Kitchens said. “She has shown herself to be a strong competitor even as a freshman. Qualifying for the state meet is a testament to the work that she has done all season. In school history, we have only sent two girls total to the state meet. So, doubling that in one season is an amazing achievement. Both Tessa and Ava are great examples of hard work and perseverance. We had a great season as a team and, collectively, the team worked hard to push themselves and each other. Getting to see Tessa and Ava in the state meet is a great step for our program.”
In the Shelbyville Regional Oct. 21, Mize finished 23rd in 19.39.3 and Shirley placed 33rd. Mize finished sixth in 19.45.2 in the Oct. 14 sectional at Shelbyville and sophomore teammate Shirley was ninth.
“I think I’m peaking around the right time,” Mize said. “My times were a little slower the past few weeks, but now they’re headed in the right direction going into state. We’re only the third and fourth girls to ever make state in cross country at our school, so we’re very excited.”
Making the state was her season-long goal. She also wanted the team to make the state for the first time, but the Royals fell short, finishing ninth in the regional. Only the top five teams advance to the state meet.
The state meet is set for Oct. 28 in Terre Haute.
“I knew that even if my team didn’t make it to state, I had a pretty good shot at making state based on the times of girls in my regional,” Mize said.
Since early in the season, Mize’s other goal is to break the school record.
“I haven’t broken the school record yet, but I’m really close,” she said. “I ran 19:01 and the record is 18:50.”
Mize said she has made the most improvement this year in her strength, both mental and physical.
“This year I really started prioritizing strength training like going to the gym consistently, and it’s definitely helped my running,” Mize said. “This season, I have also felt a lot less stressed about races and I have become a lot better at controlling my pre-race nerves with the help of my amazing teammates.”
Her best result was at the Golden Bear Invitational in Shelbyville.
“We placed first overall as a team, and I was first in my division with that personal record of 19:01,” she said. “It was really exciting to win such a big race, but I know there’s still work to do. I am passionate about running because I love every aspect of it. I love talking to my teammates during easy runs; I love hanging out with my team and I love the feeling after a race when I know I ran as hard as I could.”
Mize competed in a lot of sports when she was younger.
“I was really into figure skating and dance, but I also played soccer and volleyball for a while,” she said. “When I first started distance running in third grade, I was still doing many other sports, but I really committed to running around fifth grade.”
After cross country season, Mize said she is excited to run distance events for the Royals track and field team.
THE MIZE FILE
NAME: Tessa Mize
SCHOOL: Roncalli High School
HOBBIES: Baking, painting and cooking
FAVORITE SUBJECT: Science
FAVORITE ATHLETE: Molly Seidel
FAVORITE TV SHOW: “Stranger Things”
FAVORITE VACATION SPOT: Asheville, N.C.
FAVORITE MUSICIAN: Taylor Swift
PARENTS’ NAMES: Shannon and Dane Mize