Rookie runner races to state


Junior Sammie Kubiak runs the two mile race at Bear Creek Park for the district meet, finishing in fourth place and qualifying for regionals.

Madeline Brisson, Staff Writer

The butterflies build up in her stomach as they usually do, but this time they are intensified. This is not just any other meet; this is state. After one year on the cross country team, junior Sammie Kubiak has already qualified for state finals. 107 of the best female cross country runners in Texas are all gathered at Old Settlers Park in Round Rock for one race. She lines up with the rest of the runners in preparation for the two mile run, and the familiar sound of the gunshot lets her know the race has begun. Her lack of experience does not matter now. All that matters is who will run faster and who will cross the finish line first.

After two years of volleyball and track, Kubiak was recruited into cross country by head cross country coach Gary Derks, who saw the potential in the natural runner. After less than a year in the sport, she managed to speed her way into the state finals meet and finished 59th out of the 107.

“I asked her to run cross country because we needed a leader with great character and compassion,” Derks said. “She might seem very quiet and meek but don’t let that fool you. She is a fierce competitor who will do what it takes.”

Finishing her two mile run at state with a time just over 12 minutes, Kubiak had mixed emotions about her success.

“I’m a little disappointed at the results,” Kubiak said. “It was not my best time. The course was rough. It had lots of hills and gravel which I was not used to and I got tripped at the beginning of the race. I’m not too upset though, because I was just happy to make it there.”

Although she participated in track during her freshman and sophomore years, running cross country was new to Kubiak this year, and the longer distances took some getting used to. She did not expect much from her first season, since running cross country was mainly to meant to give her the foundation for track.

“My goals [were] basically not to get last. I really had no expectations. I just thought I’d just try my hardest and see where it took me,” Kubiak said. “At state it was very stressful and I got pretty nervous because I didn’t have my team with me at the starting line, but overall I was very excited and grateful to be there.”

Her efforts earned her a spot at state. According to her coaches Kubiak is on the fast track to success with an unbeatable work ethic and speed.

“Sammie is a go-getter.  She will do anything you ask her to do in her work outs,” assistant cross country coach Brandon Beasley said. “She sets her goals high and does what it takes to reach them.  She is a hard worker and her dedication is paying off.”

During a race, Kubiak said her mind is always focused. She finds whoever is ahead of her and concentrates on passing them until she has left them in the dust. The team also has their own strategies to prepare for meets.

“We pray right before we run, that kind of calms you down and pumps you up at the same time,” Kubiak said.

With a successful season of cross country behind her, Kubiak looks forward to her upcoming track season. After falling short of state last year for track, she is determined that this year will be different.

“It is wonderful to coach a person like her with the confidence to try difficult things. Samantha Kubiak can do whatever she sets her mind to,” Derks said. “Coach Beasley has done a fantastic job with the girls, guiding a young team, and especially getting Sammie to a [new] level excellence.”

With only s year and a half left in high school, Kubiak hopes to continue her running through college, preferably track. Beasley has nothing but confidence in her and reassures her hopes of running in college.

“She has everything that college coaches would want in a runner,” Beasley said. “With her speed, strength and her work ethics, she will have the opportunity to improve each season and throughout college.”