Holy Trinity’s McNatt takes state 1A cross country title


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Holy Trinity's Carly McNatt is the third girl from her school to win a state championship in cross country.

Carl Kotala

The question wasn’t whether or not Holy Trinity’s Carly McNatt would win the Class 1A State Cross Country Championship.

The real question was … how much would the country’s fastest eighth grader win by?

Turns out the answer was 53 seconds. And it could have been more.

McNatt finished the 5K course in 17 minutes, 35 seconds, becoming the third Holy Trinity girl to win a state championship.

Her closest competitor was Circle Christian sophomore Sinkenesh Parker, who came in at 18:28.

“I went out right away, leading the pack of girls,” McNatt said. “I was by myself for basically the whole race. After the first mile — it was super cold outside, so I got really congested — I had a hard time breathing through my nose, so I was breathing through my mouth the rest of the time.

“From there, I was trying to finish and trying to get there as fast as I could.”

Holy Trinity’s girls team (Carly McNatt, Alesa Wiechecki Vergara, Braelyn Wahy, Julia McNatt, Ivy Knight, Charlotte Varnes and Gabriela Shenbaum) finished third in the state, its best finish since winning the title in 2014.

McNatt joined four-time state winner Kayla Hale (2005-2008) and three-time winner Julie Wollrath (2011-2013) as the only Holy Trinity girls to win a state title.

She also showed incredible improvement from her seventh-grade year when she finished sixth in the state with a time of 19:07.

That season was basically a learning experience for McNatt. She learned about the strategy of racing and how to run against older girls.

She also trained this past summer, something she didn’t really do prior to her seventh-grade season.

The Holy Trinity team went to a camp in North Carolina where runners got to train on hills and generally get better prepared for this upcoming season.

“It definitely helped a lot,” McNatt said. “I definitely felt a difference. I was in better shape and my form was better, too.”

The results certainly backed that up. Not only did she establish herself as the country’s top eighth grader with a time of 17:24 earlier in the season, she lowered the bar even further with a blistering 17:13 at Holy Trinity’s district meet on her own course.

What made those runs even more impressive was that, as in the state meet, McNatt spent a lot of time running on her own.

“It’s hard,” she said. “It’s tough trying to pace myself, not having competition to run against.”

As fast as she is on the course, McNatt is endearingly humble off of it.

While some people might have T-shirts printed up declaring themselves as the fastest eighth grader in the country, her reaction was very simple.

“I like it,” she said.