Confidence, support helps lead Hall to state finals



When Ellie Hall began running for fun in the fifth grade, she chose the sport of cross country just because she was looking for something to do.

Four years later, the Forest Park freshman will be making the jaunt to the LaVern Gibson Championship Cross Country Course in Terre Haute this Saturday as she’ll be competing in the IHSAA Cross Country state finals after placing 16th overall at last weekend’s semistate with a personal best time of 19:15.

“I think I’ve definitely exceeded my expectations,” Hall said. “I was just hoping to make it to semistate this year, state wasn’t even floating around in my brain at the start of June.”

Hall will be one of five area runners competing at the state tournament this Saturday as she’ll be joined by Jasper’s Alyssa Skorge and Andi VanMeter while Jasper’s Jackson Miller and Heritage Hills’ Mitchell Hopf will compete in the boys state finals.

Immediately following her run at last Saturday’s semistate meet at Brown County, Hall felt confident that she had ran a solid race. However, she was hoping to not be the only Ranger moving on.

“It was a really good feeling. I thought I had a good race but it was just a little bittersweet because I wanted my team to come with me,” Hall said. “I wouldn’t be here without my team, I can only say that much. They’re amazing and they’ve always been here to support me.”

She’s been grateful to have the constant support of her head coach Philip Wolf and the elder runners around her including senior Claire Mehling.

Wolf believes that being able to learn under someone with the experience and accomplishments as Mehling has helped Hall become a better runner.

“Having a teammate like Claire Mehling to run with whenever she’s here, it’s really helped her a lot,” Wolf said. “She gained more and more confidence every race by closing the gap on Claire’s times and it just gave her all that confidence that she can compete with the front runners.”

As the season progressed, Hall’s times continued to show improvement and it’s something that Wolf believes started with a strong offseason workout and carried over into weekly practices and meets.

“At the beginning of the year, she was nowhere near where she is now. She’s really put on a lot of time since her very first open run,” Wolf said. “She came to the majority, about 95 percent, of our practices and she always made sure to work hard doing what she was instructed to do and she got better from it.”

Hall added: “I cannot tell you how much my coaches and my teammates have helped me grow throughout this season.”

Leading up to the state finals, Hall and Mehling have been running together and they’ve discussed what to do and what not do as Mehling knows the course very well as she competed at the state finals a year ago.

But Hall isn’t going to set any certain goals or expectations for herself at this Saturday’s race — well, that is except for making sure she enjoys every single minute of it.

“It really hasn’t set in yet but I kind of just keep thinking to myself that ‘Wow, I’m actually going to state,” Hall said with a laugh. “But my expectations are just to have fun while enjoying the experience at the same time.”

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