Noszka must wait on cupcakes until after state cross country

When she’s not involved in sports as a competitor or fan, Taylor Noszka likes to be in the kitchen.

“I actually like baking a lot … cupcakes, cookies … the decorating and all of it,” she said.

While the Wilmington High School senior eats healthy most of the time, she’d be open to one of her cupcakes at the right time.

“I won’t eat a cupcake right before I race but after a race I’ll eat a cupcake … because I just had a race,” she exclaimed.

So on Saturday, there’ll be no cupcakes for Noszka before 2 p.m. By then she should have completed her 3.1-mile race in the OHSAA Division II State Cross Country Championships.

Noszka is set to start at 1:45 p.m. in the Div. II race.

“I want to try to PR (personal record),” she said. “I want to show personal growth honestly, just go out there and do my absolute best.

“I have a group of girls I want to stay with, that I know I could stay with if I push myself. Placing in the top 20 would be absolutely awesome.”

That Noszka has made it to the pinnacle for high school runners in Ohio is an unusual feat. She was a first-team All-SBAAC American Division soccer player this season, her second career first-team soccer honor. Noszka recorded 20 goals this season and finished with 34 for her WHS career.

“At the end of track season (in the spring), she came and talked with me,” cross country coach Karen Heslop said. “Throughout the summer she did both (soccer and cross country) conditionings but soccer was going to be her main focus (this fall). She’d come to (cross country) practice if she could.

“As we got closer to the end of the season, we nailed down running at league and then progressing from there, seeing what her body could do and what her schedule would allow.”

Even though she wasn’t training regularly with the cross country team, she was ultimately training for cross country.

“I had zero reservations and zero worries if she was getting in enough training,” said Heslop who has been both a long distance runner and a soccer player. “She ran just as much, if not more, than our actual cross country runners. The position she played (midfield) is not all that different. It does mirror a lot of cross country practices.”

Noszka said during a club soccer match she wore a tracker on her foot. In the first half she ran three miles.

“If I repeated that in the second half, that would be six (miles) for the whole game which is more than we do in (cross country) training sometimes.”

Noszka began exclusive training for cross country just prior to the league meet. Her soccer background paid off. She was fourth in the American Division girls race this season and earned another first-team All-SBAAC honor.

“Cross country is more mentally challenging,” she said. “Running is the only thing you are focusing on so you have to push through the mental and physical pain. It’s not easy. It’s definitely hard.”

Heslop said Noszka should challenge Sophie Huffman’s school record of 19:44 come Saturday.

“What she has already done has blown any expectations out of the water,” the coach said. “The way she eats, when she eats, what she eats, when she sleeps, how she stretches, how she keeps her body loose. Those are all things that are above and beyond what we ask for, require or expect of our athletes. That’s what sets her apart, what makes her able to do two sports.”