Ray of hope

Badger star on track to for state

PLAIN TWP. — Miranda Stanhope would rather run in 50-degree weather with overcast conditions. That’s what the Badger High School junior prefers to run the 1,600- or 3,200-meter races.

She’d rather go four or eight times around the track without the elements being a distraction.

On April 13 at the GlenOak Eagle Elite Invitational, she ran 11:14.55 in the 3,200. It is the fastest time among the Division III female 3,200 runners around the state, just less than 3 seconds faster than McDonald High School junior Anna Guerra.

The two will battle one another this season in a couple of races leading up to the Division III Massillon Perry Regional meet.

The weather was 65 degrees and sunny for Stanhope’s race, a little warmer than she’d prefer. The competition of Division I runners kept her mind on the track.

“It was really good to have a lot of people around me,” Stanhope said. “It was the first invitational I’ve been to where I’ve had to push myself that hard. It was good to run in the warmer weather and that type of competition. It was good stimulation for the later races like regionals and state.”

Stanhope placed seventh in the 3,200 at last year’s Division III state meet, finishing in 12:27.48, and was third in the 1,600 in 5:07.68. She has run 5:14.52 this season in the 1,600.

“I think I’ve been doing really well in the heat,” Stanhope said. “Compared to my times last year at the warmer meets, I’ve been running about 30 seconds faster doing the 2 mile. I think running multiple events has helped me with that, so that I’m not used to being 100-percent fresh.”

Stanhope took 14th at the 2017 Division III state meet in the 3,200 with 11:55.67, struggling to finish. That was then, but this is now, and training for this year’s state meet is her focus.

“A lot of these (meets) she’ll run the mile and 2 mile and multiple events,” Badger coach Carrie Albert said. “That helps going in with tired legs, going in a little bit tired in that 2. It helps her adjust to the adverse conditions. She’s definitely improved a lot over the years as far as dealing with the elements. She had a bad experience her freshman year. She’s really strong right now, and that makes a big difference with the strength she has.”

Stanhope’s times are exceeding where she was last year. Then again, everyone’s times and distances are better. There has been more spring sports played this year than there was in all of 2018.

That heat, not an issue.

“Compared to my times last year at the warmer meets, I’ve been running about 30 seconds faster doing the 2 mile,” Stanhope said.

She’d like to go faster in the mile and go under 11 minutes in the 2 mile heading into the district meets in mid May.

Stanhope is running the 800 along with the 1,600 and 3,200 during meets. It’s helping her endurance. Which race, the 1,600 or 3,200, will be her focus this year heading to state is yet to be determined.

The junior found her determination in winning the Division III state cross country meet this past season. Track season is another chance to show she’s one of the state’s best.

“I think it made me push myself harder in my workouts,” Stanhope said. “It had me have higher expectations for the beginning of the season. I think it gave me a lot of motivation to try to PR in both events this year.”

No matter the weather, Stanhope is ready for any distance this season.