MARSHALL - Marshall Tiger cross country runner Claire Boersma knew she ran well in her fifth-place finish at the Hutchinson Invitational on Sept. 12, but she had no idea it was fast enough to put her in the record books.
"It felt really fast," said Boersma. "When I finished and saw my time was in the 14s I was really excited."
It was a personal record finish for Boersma and the first race she has finished in under 15 minutes. In addition to being a personal best, her time of 14:44 has placed her as the Marshall High School record holder for the fastest time in a 4,000-meter race.
Marshall cross country runner Claire Boersma
"I didn't know I broke the record until the next day," said Boersma. "I was already really happy with how well I had done and then after I found out I was so excited, I just couldn't believe it."
As a freshman, Boersma has paced the Tigers to four team victories this season with several top-place finishes. Boersma has also taken home two individual medals with first-place finishes in the Canby and Adrian invitationals.
"She is very dependable, hard-working and humble, "said head coach Marie Sample. "I can always count on her to come and give a great race."
Boersma has consistently finished in the top five for all but one of her races this season. "My times haven't been as fast the past few meets," said Boersma, "but I have been getting really good placings."
Boersma likes to visualize the start of her race in order to control her nerves. "I try to have a really positive attitude before I run, trying not to doubt myself," Boersma said, "remembering even if it gets hard not to give up."
During races, she pushes herself to keep moving up, catching one runner at a time. "I just stare at the back of their head and try to pick up my pace a little bit," said Boersma. "Once I pass that girl I just keep looking for the next girl."
Despite her success, Boersma admits she has areas to improve on.
"I have to work on always striving to do better and never thinking, 'This place is good, I can just relax now.'"
Boersma considers herself a silent role model for her team, leading with actions instead of words.
"I go out and do my best, pulling the others along with me," she said. "I just try to have a good attitude and not complain."
Her coach also applauds Boersma's ability to encourage her teammates.
"She is definitely a leader by example," said Sample. "I don't know if she will ever be a rah-rah, fire people up, person but that's just not her."
"I like this season a lot because there is more bonding between the team members," said Boersma. "We have a lot of fun, and with how well it's been going it's been really fun."
With a team consisting of mostly seventh- and eighth-graders, the Tigers are young and eager to see what lies ahead.
"They are trying to figure out where they all fit and what their goals are," said Sample, "but they all work very hard at every practice and every meet."
Boersma chose to participate in cross country after excelling as a runner as a child.
"In grade school I was always the fastest in our grade," Boersma said. "I was really nervous about trying it because I didn't know how I would do."
She overcame her fears and has succeed as a varsity runner since her seventh-grade year. Last season, as an eighth-grader, she participated in the state meet and placed 144th with a time of 16:01.
"I went alone so it wasn't as much fun," said Boersma.
She hopes to return to state this year - alongside her teammates.
"The sole mission is to get to state," said Sample. "We are hoping to take not just individuals but the whole team."
- Name, School: Claire Boersma, Marshall.
- Sport: Cross Country.
- Year: Freshman.
- Prep Career: Three years.
- Most thrilling sports moment: Breaking 4,000-meter school record.
- Other sports I play: Track and Field.
- Favorite food: Breakfast foods.
- Favorite movie: A Walk to Remember.
- Favorite subject: Math.
- The best piece of advice I have received: Do your best.
- Three words that describe me: Determined, happy and funny.
- One possession I can't live without: Bible.
- Plans after high school: College.