Photo, story by Jeff Steers
Exponent special writer
Addison High School cross country runner Stephanie Hernandez said she “saw potential” in herself in sixth grade when she tried cross country.
That potential is now coming out.
Hernandez – only a sophomore – is ranked No. 2 in the Cascades Conference and has her eyes on making a splash at the Michigan High School Athletic Association Division 4 state cross-country finals the first weekend in November.
She ran a personal best time of 20 minutes, 19 seconds in winning the Napoleon High School tri-meet last Wednesday. That time would have put her in the top 20 last year at the state meet – good for all-state honors.
“I started off pretty fast (on Wednesday) and let the coach tell me when to push,” Hernandez said.
Hernandez was one of the top runners for the Panthers last year. She started a little slow but got better as the season went along.
“I was not very confident . . . we already had a faster runner,” Hernandez said. “But I had confidence I would get better.”
She did and by the end of the season, Hernandez was ranked No. 4 in the Cascades Conference. Hernandez finished in the top 10 at regionals and finished 55th at the D-4 state meet in 21:08.
Hernandez said she is dedicating this season to a friend who died from suicide earlier in the year.
“I would like to say if you are struggling, it is okay to reach out for help,” Hernandez said. “My running gives me the opportunity to let everything out.”
The sophomore also plays basketball and competes in indoor track in the winter and outdoor track in the spring.
“Sports teaches you to be competitive and mentally tough,” Hernandez said. “I love the mental challenge of cross country.