Struck with illness, Noszka has tough day in state cross country

OBETZ — Every goal in front of Taylor Noszka as she prepared for the state cross country meet went by the wayside just days prior to the race.

Struck with an illness that left her feeling well below 100 percent, Noszka ran 22:03.4 and finished 144th in the OHSAA Division II Cross Country Championship race at Fortress Obetz, inside the I-270 loop just south of Columbus. Her previous best time was 19:58.

“Prior to her illness midweek, she had a great shot of finishing her season with a PR (personal record), potentially a new school record, and placing in the top 25 percent of the race,” WHS head coach Karen Heslop said.

But the illness that sidelined Noszka on Wednesday and Thursday, drained any hope of any of those accomplishments.

“Any race strategy that she had from times, place goals, what girls to focus on went out the window this past week,” said Heslop. “We agreed that she would run by feel and if she was not feeling it, she would go out there and enjoy the accomplishment of making it to state regardless of the final outcome.”

Despite being a shell of her normal self, Noszka was determined to compete, Heslop said.

“Throughout the week, we didn’t talk about her NOT running,” the WHS coach said. “We took it one day at a time and I checked in with her Wednesday and Thursday. By Friday, she felt she had enough energy to come up and preview the course. We headed up and she did an easy run to familiarize herself with the course. I knew it would be a same day decision on where she would run on Saturday, but she did everything she could to get herself to the start line.”

No matter the outcome, Noszka’s senior season in soccer and cross country were remarkable.

“She is an amazing athlete and human with so much grit and determination; this will make her successful in anything she puts her mind to,” Heslop said. “She came into her senior year and is continuing to give it her all for herself and her teammates in all of the sports she participates in. I am looking forward to watching her on the basketball court this winter, before I have one final season to coach her in track. We are not done yet.”