VanOrder set for strong senior cross country season

EVART — Mara VanOrder has been using cross country to get into shape for basketball, but continues to be a very competitive runner for the Evart Wildcats.

She had a strong performance at the Evart Invitational.

“Things went really well,” she said. “It was a perfect morning to run. Our strategy worked out really well, just staying relaxed in the first mile, coming out and picking off girls and passing. Things went really great. It wasn’t too warm.”

VanOrder has been happy so far with her final year in high school cross country.

“I definitely feel I’m in the best shape ever right now,” she said.

VanOrder’s all-time best time has been 22:32 from her freshman season.

“I definitely hope to beat that,” she said. “I hope to get a good PR. It’s going to take me going out a little bit faster, but feeling comfortable and keeping that pace up in the third mile.”

The strength of her race is usually her last mile, VanOrder indicated.

“I try to use that last mile as a workout for my 400 in track,” she said. “I’m building up that strength and endurance.”

VanOrder played volleyball as a sophomore but has spent three of her last four fall seasons in cross country.

“I ran all summer long,” she said. “It’s one of my hobbies in the summer.”

The Wildcats have a full girls team this fall.

VanOrder and the Wildcats will gear up for a home Highland Conference meet on Tuesday. Meanwhile, VanOrder also hopes for a strong regional race later this month with hopes of qualifying for the state final.

“If I beat my PR and continue improving, I think I’m definitely on track to state right now,” she said.