Girls Track: Bobart runs at state thanks to phenominal drop in time
Glenbrook North's Valerie Bobart in the 3200 meter run at the IHSA 3A Girls Track Championship at Eastern Illinois University's O'Brien Field on Saturday, May 19, 2012 in Charleston. | Joel Lerner~Sun-Times Media
Updated: July 3, 2012 10:19AM
When Valerie Bobart approached the starting line for the IHSA Class 3A state meet’s 3,200-meter run, her mind was calm and focused, unlike the last time she ran on Eastern Illinois University’s sky blue track.
“This year I was not as nervous as I had been my freshman year because my freshman year I was really nervous,” said the Glenbrook North junior. “Even going up to that line, all I could think about was, like, ‘Oh my gosh, I’m actually doing this.’ This year I was able to focus on my race.”
Bobart finished 26th at this year’s state meet, finishing in 11:38.43 on a sweltering day where the temperature hung well above 80 degrees.
Bobart wasn’t able to top her personal best because of the heat, but she was still satisfied with her finish. The race provided one last measuring stick before the start of offseason training.
“It was the final event (of the season), so I wanted to see how I stacked up against the other girls,” Bobart said. “I got 11:38, which was pretty good for me. I was happy.”
When Bobart qualified for state as a freshman, she ran a personal-best 11:31.20 to eclipse the state cut at sectionals. In the ensuing two years, the IHSA dropped the state qualifying time to 11:22.04.
Bobart struggled to match that throughout her junior campaign. She ran 11:53.62 at the CSL North meet six days before sectionals. She needed a 32-second drop in order to return to state.
But Bobart managed to taper effectively and stay mentally strong. She then smashed her personal best by running 11.16.17 at the Niles West sectional and booked a ticket to state.
“I just really had to focus on setting my mind on my goals, and I knew I had to focus on trying to get what I wanted,” Bobart said. “I tried to calm myself down before my race, and my coaches gave me a bunch of inspirational talks. I was really focused on my pace.”
Bobart has qualified for the cross country state meet in each of her three years at Glenbrook North. She clearly understands the importance of year-round training. Bobart begins training next week for her final cross country season at Glenbrook North.
“I’m really enjoying my break,” Bobart said. “But I really enjoy running, so I’m looking forward to starting again.”