One Foot in Front of The Other

On Nov. 5 junior Jaya Coats went to state UIL cross country placing 36th out of 149 contestants


Photo by: Olivia Winton

Junior Jaya Coast crossing the finish line at her UIL state cross country meet placing 36th out of 149 contestants with a time of 19:33.

by Savanna Clapp, Co-editor in chief

The path ahead of her is muscle memory at this point – past the trees and the bushes, around the rocks and over the hills, steadily passing other racers one by one, her footfalls on the ground mixing with the other racers encouraging her to push past her limits, until finally – for the 3rd year in a row – she crosses the finish line along with the other best of state runners.

Junior Jayas Coats made state UIL cross country for the 3rd year in a row. She placed 36th out of 149 contestants with a time of 19:33 at Old Settlers Park on Nov. 5. 

“I did better than last year,” Coats said. “But I know I could’ve done [even] better by continuously trying to move up my place. Towards the end you’re supposed to run really hard [but] I didn’t do that because I was so tired. But if I thought past that, I could’ve ran faster because towards the end I got passed up. If I did that I probably would’ve had a better place. So it’s just kind of like that mindset of thinking ‘oh I might be tired, but this is the time now to give all I got’ so working with that, hopefully, next year I’ll be able to think about that [mindset] when I’m [racing].”

Coats has made state her freshman and sophomore years. Her freshman year she placed 27th out of 121 with a time of 18:34 and 54th out of 152 with a time of 19:26 her sophomore year. The biggest difference she’s noticed from her freshman year versus now is the memorization of the course.

“I already knew what the course looked like,” Coats said. “I know when I’m getting closer to the end, I know that soon after I’m gonna hit this part and then there’s gonna be a hill that goes straight up. The certain pinpoints of the race are stuck in my head so when I come back I know where everything is and what’s coming next.”

Coats said that she trains six days a week, Monday through Saturday.

“We have Sunday off,” Coats said. “Sometimes we’ll have quality days where we do reps and workouts. And other days it’s pure runs. Monday is an easy day run, Wednesday is our mid-week long run and during the summer, Saturdays are our long runs. [Also] during the summer we have a mileage goal [where] we would have to hit a certain mileage per week.”

Coats started cross country in 7th grade after her mom suggested it. She started by running a variety of things and now she mainly runs 5ks. Coats said her favorite thing about cross country is “listening to guys being silly” and having fun with the team.

“There was a cornhole one pasta night,” Coats said.  “I was playing against these two sophomore guys, they’re super funny, but I was playing against them trying to see who was better. I beat them once and they asked for a rematch. After that, I kept losing and it was so disappointing. [Also] spending time with the team [as well as] the accomplishment after races feel really great because it feels good accomplishing races and cheering [my] teammates on.”