Pratt Credits God and Family With Success
MIDDLEBOURNE – Jason Pratt succumbed to cancer in April, but the clock did not stop on his daughter’s drive to excel as a member of the Tyler Consolidated Cross Country team. Katie Pratt was the sole Silver Knight to compete at the state championship last fall.
Pratt, then a freshman, finished the 3.1 mile race with a time of 21 minutes, 27 seconds to place 33rd in the state championship. By breaking that time down, that means Pratt’s miles were less than 7 minutes each with the extra tenth of a mile at around roughly 42 seconds.
“I’m very happy my dad got to see me run at the state meet. He was my biggest fan,” said Pratt, 15, of Alma, now a sophomore.
Pratt said she is ready to run again this season which begins Aug. 1 with first meet scheduled for Aug. 20 at St. Marys.
When comparing cross country to track, Pratt said, “I like cross country better. The team is supportive and we have a lot of fun.”
TCHS Cross Country Coach Brenna Haggerty offered high praise for Pratt’s prowess as a runner.
“Katie has the experience from last year, so that will give her an advantage,” she said. “She knows what it takes to be successful. Katie is also a competitor. This allows her to be competitive and excel against tough competition.”
Unlike running around a flat track, cross country running features trails and terrain that challenges any runner. Pratt said the TCHS course is hilly, but it is great tool for conditioning.
“Our course is tough a lot of uphills but it gets me and our team into shape,” she said.
As to cross country courses where Pratt has competed, she recalls the famed water crossings at Cameron High School.
“The Cameron course is a lot of fun,” she said. “When it was rainy and cold, it muddy and you’d stick in spots. And while the water that we ran through was colder, you realized how much you were having when you having when you crossed the creek.”
Pratt said she liked the turns at Grand Vue’s course in Marshall County, but not so much the giant hill that runners have to climb at the tail end of the race. The hill ascends at about 30-degree angle, maybe sharper. Runners who tackle this hill have no choice but to dig deep because the finish line is on the downhill side. Sprinting down such a steep hill is not easy either, Pratt said.
During the summer, Pratt said she among other members of the team have been running three days a week, probably at least 6 miles a clip in the heat and hills. She gives high praise to teammate Jahnvi Duncan, one of the Silver Knights’ distance leaders, and she looks forward to sub 5-minute miler Gavin Corley to join the boys’ team.
“I’m looking for a good season ahead,” she said. “I know we have some good runners coming up. And we welcome new members to the team.”
Haggerty added, “As for the season, the middle school teams should be solid. We have experienced runners returning. The high school team will be competitive. All the runners we have are focused and training hard. We face talented teams and runners throughout the season week after week. I look forward to seeing how they compete.”
A few interesting facts Pratt pre-fuels before her races with junk food, mainly candy. She said the chocolate gives her a boost.
Many long distance athletes fuel up with a little extra sugar or coffee before hitting the trails. On the plus side, the sugar high means a fast, focused start. On the downside, if the race goes into extra innings because of sharp hills or obstacles, there may be a sugar “crash” depending on the distance. Marathon runners grapple with the pluses and minuses of ingesting concentrated caffeine/sugar known as “Gu Energy” during the later portions of their races. Chocolate and sugar, though not pure sugar insanity such as Skittles or Starbursts, is a time proven strategy. When Pratt competed at the state meet in October, she drank chocolate milk and ate fudge rounds.
One last thing Pratt said she likes having her hair in a pony tail or two when competing. Her style is comparable to that of Jordan Hassay, one of the best distance runners in the country.
Her grandfather, Dave Barrick, got her started running as a sixth grader at Tyler Middle School. Her grandmother, Lynn, has never missed a practice or a meet. And she thanks her mother, Rebecca, and brothers.
“I want to thank my family and friends for their support, but I want to thank God most of all because He gave me the ability to run,” said Pratt, a member of Indian Creek Southern Baptist Church.