Setting goals, keeping positive mindset helped Grau reach state level

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MFL MarMac’s Clare Grau capped off a stellar freshman season by running in the state cross country meet on Oct. 31. (Photo by Audrey Posten)

By Audrey Posten, Times-Register

MFL MarMac freshman Clare Grau has been a lifelong runner. In seventh grade, she joined the middle cross country team, then kept with the sport as she entered high school this fall.

“I enjoy running a lot,” she said. “It takes your mind off things.”

“And,” she added, “you can set goals for yourself.”

When the season started, Grau admitted running in the state cross country meet wasn’t necessarily on her mind.

“I definitely wanted to do well,” she said, “but I didn’t think I would make it.”

However, as the season progressed, and Grau continued to medal and shave more and more time off her finishes, a trip to Fort Dodge started looking like a distinct possibility.

“Later on, I realized there was a chance, and was really pushing hard,” she remarked.

Grau placed 15th at the Upper Iowa Conference meet on Oct. 15—giving her all-conference honors and the best finish of any Bulldog runner. A week later, on Oct. 23, she ran a season-best 21:17 and placed seventh at the district meet at the Guttenberg Golf Course. The effort punched her ticket to state and made Grau MFL MarMac’s first cross country athlete in six years to compete at that level.

How did she feel?

“Pure happiness,” Grau shared. “It was a good feeling that you’d met your goals, like your dreams were coming true.”

The state cross country meet was held at Lakeside Golf Course on Oct. 31. There, Grau placed 43rd in Class 1A with a time of 21:34, her third best mark of the year.

She was proud of the effort, which put her in the top third of a field of 152 runners.

“There were so many people there—tough competition and a ton of schools,” Grau said. “It really felt good once I crossed that finish line.”

The state course in Fort Dodge wasn’t too difficult, she confided.

“There were a couple hills, but it was mostly flat,” Grau said.

That was nothing compared to the season opener—and MFL MarMac’s only home meet—at Tri City Golf Course outside Luana. 

“That was the hardest one all year,” Grau stated.

Grau said several factors contributed to her success. One was the competition she faced throughout the season. The top three Class 1A state finishers—Kee’s Haley Meyer, South Winneshiek’s Billie Wagner and Turkey Valley’s Jalyssa Blazek—were fellow Upper Iowa Conference athletes who Grau ran with nearly every week.

“I benefitted from running with them all year. It helps you know where to run,” she explained.

Her coaches and teammates, especially older sister Rose, were also supportive. 

“They were always pushing me and cheering me on,” Clare said.

Most important, though, was that she’d set goals for herself.

“You just try to bump that time up a couple seconds every week and keep a positive mindset,” reflected Clare. “If you want something really badly, you have to work for it.”

That will serve her well moving forward.

“My goal next year is to bump up my time,” she said, “and I want to get back to state.”

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