Kyla Steman, senior at ETHS, represented EGXC as an individual qualifier at the IHSA State Cross Country meet on Saturday, November 9, 2013. Steman was excited to cap off her last high school season with this significant accomplishment, and she made it one worth remembering.
The meet took place on a sunny day in Peoria, Illinois, where spectators and athletes could feel the energy and excitement in the air. According to Steman, being at the state meet was “amazing.” “It was like all the excitement from all the other races had been combined,” she said.
When it came time for her race, Steman reflected on where she was and what she was about to do. She noted feeling very in-tune with the other athletes. According to Steman, “Being in the race was unlike any other racing experience I’ve ever had. Knowing that you’re a part of a sea of about 200 girls all striving toward the same goal really makes you feel connected.”
When the gun went off, that sea of 200 girls took off running along with Steman. Shortly after starting, though, Steman found herself missing one of a runner’s most valuable possessions: her shoe.
Steman had lost her shoe about a mile into the race, when another racer accidentally stepped on her heel. Two EGXC fans who were there to cheer Kyla on pointed this out to Coach Zachary Herrmann right before Steman came to the 1.5 mile mark of the 3 mile race. Herrmann explained that he had not even noticed, as Steman had seemed so fluid and natural.
Steman might have lost her shoe, but she did not lose her composure. “When I lost my shoe, I hesitated for a moment,” she said, “but I had to leave it behind.” Steman went on to finish the race in an impressive 18 minutes and 25 seconds, placing 91st among 200 girls.
Steman’s teammates and coaches were impressed, but not at all surprised. “Running with one shoe for the majority of the race and finishing a mere 13 seconds from her personal record speaks to how determined and resolved she is,” states Coach Zachary Herrmann. “She simply doesn’t let things get in her way; she doesn’t make excuses for herself.”
This resolve and dedication are part of what brought Steman here in the first place, and they will likely lead her to continued success in the future. Steman is planning to run in college, and she is eager to see what lies ahead.
Not only have Steman’s performances this season set her up for future successes, but they have set a new standard for Evanston Girls Cross Country as a program, as well. According to Herrmann, “Kyla has shown us that our program is capable of producing state-caliber athletes, and I know the team is determined to follow her lead next year.”
Several EGXC runners took a fan bus to Peoria to cheer Steman on, and the energy and excitement was contagious. Coach Herrmann shared that it was powerful for the athletes to see so many of the same runners they have seen all year racing in the state meet. “There’s no longer a ‘this is out of our league’ sentiment,” he shared. “The girls know they can do it and that they belong here.”
Steman has also noticed this newfound sense of confidence. “I’m also really excited for EGXC,” she stated. “We’re moving up, and I think people have started to take notice of that.”
Steman is continuing to train with college ambitions on her mind, while the team takes a short break before hitting the pavement again this winter.