Salute to Seniors: A. Barber, M. Reese, & J. O'Donnell

School: Ozark High School

What was your most memorable race/moment?

My most memorable xc race was state 2018. It has always been my goal to get all state in cross country and each year I have placed near the 40s, but on my last state race ever I placed 7th! That is a feeling that I will never forget, one that encompasses how hard work and dedication do pay off.

My most memorable track moment was placing 3rd as a team at state. This moment is truly one I will never forget. Standing on that podium as a team for the first time in Ozark history was breathtaking. It showed how hard each and every one of my teammates had worked and I have never been more excited/proud!!

What was the funniest thing that happened during your running career?

Every year our team made a T-shirt with a coach on the back and a quote from them. It was so funny making the shirts and seeing their reactions!

Who would you consider your biggest competition over your four years?

It's hard to name just one person or team that has challenged me the most, but my sister, Brocklyn, has been my biggest competitor over my fours years. She has always been there in every workout, in every race and runs the exact same pace as me. Whether we are in the front or the back of a race, she is with me. I will always be competing with her.

What was your greatest accomplishment?

Through these four years, I will leave with seven state medals. All of which came in my last two years of high school. My greatest accomplishment is not acquiring these medals, but showing to others that if you stick with this sport and give it your all that you can and will become successful.

If you could do it all over again what would you change about your running career in high school?

I would change the way I looked at competitions and races. I always struggled with little confidence and the idea that they could actually be fun. Entering a race with confidence not only tells your opponents that you're ready, but tells yourself that you deserve to be there and you are capable of doing well. Your mindset is everything in this sport.

What were the most difficult obstacles you had to overcome?

First, I have always found it challenging to overcome mental obstacles during running. This is a sport that pushes you physically and mentally, so overcoming the mental battles like "slow down" or "I can't do it" were tough. Additionally, before my junior track season, my dad passed away. He was someone that was always at every race and cheered the loudest. His funny spirit was one that went unmatched. Not having him or his support on the sidelines was a challenge I had not anticipated, but had to work with.

What will you miss the most?

I will miss my teammates and the fun they bring. Everyday there was something to laugh at or someone to make fun of:). Having teammates like this made all the hard workouts worth it, which in turn made winning that much more fun because it was with them. I will also miss my coaches. Aside from what they have taught me, they were so much fun to be around and there was never a dull moment with them.

What advice would you give to younger athletes?

Always give it your all. Don't let your mind dictate your performance. I know there are races that seem pointless or days where you are not feeling it, but pushing yourself to still race good in these circumstances proves that you will never give up. Your mind is a powerful tool, use it to your advantage.

What kind of impact has your coach had on you and your team?

Coach Cristy is my cross country and distance coach in track. You will never find someone who is more invested in his athletes or someone who is more dedicated to their success. His personality is one that brightens every room and makes every tough workout easier. He has been there for me in some very tough times in my life and had taught me so much beyond running. I will always be thankful for him. Also, coach brewer (head girls track coach) is someone who doesn't get appreciated enough for all he does for this team. He has put countless hours in for us and always is finding ways to improve. I will miss him and his constant sarcasm...

What are your college plans?

I am planning to attend Southwest Baptist University in Bolivar, Missouri where I will run cross country and track!

Who would you like to say 'thank you' to?

I want to thank my teammates for being people who have made this sport one that I have fell in love with, my coaches who have dedicated so much time and energy into shaping me into who I am today, and lastly, my parents for spending countless hours and money watching me do what I love!

Is there anything else you'd like to add?

Find what truly makes you do this sport. Find your passion, it will make running so much more enjoyable!