BY WENDI REARDON PRICE
Clarkston News Sports Writer
Senior Mia Patria ended her final cross country season with Clarkston High School top in the state.
She finished in sixth place in the time of 18:10.1 at the MHSAA Division 1 Girls Cross Country State Finals, Nov. 2.
“Mia’s performance is just phenomenal,” said Coach Kevin Breen. “She is just such an athlete going out there and to be sixth fastest runner in Division 1 is very impressive.”
“My senior season was great,” said Patria, who led the team in races and as team captain. “Every season leading up to this has been really fun and fulfilling, but this one was the icing on the cake. I made a lot of new friends, new teammates, and I really connected with the team.”
Patria started participating in cross country when she was in sixth grade, but she was thinking about running before joining.
“It’s actually funny,” she said, explaining how she got started. “Coach Breen was my swim instructor when I was eight-years-old. When I was in his class he told my mom I should run. He could tell I would be a good runner and I should be in cross country. I remembered that a few years back. I did it and here we are now.”
Patria added what she enjoys about it is the growth process and what she has learned from it.
“Every day you get better and better,” she said. “You are building up grit, you are building up strength. It takes a lot of hard work to go out there and motivate yourself day after day to run many miles. I am passionate about it because of the strength you build both character wise and physically. It makes you resilient to things. I also love how running is a good metaphor for things in my life, going through changes in life and different ups and downs. It’s a good example of how to persevere through the struggles of life.”
She plans to run competitively in college and has received an offer from University of Arkansas – Little Rock. She would have Alan Webb as coach, who is a national record holder for the mile.
“He came to recruit me about a month ago,” Patria said. “I would be trained by the national record holder that would be interesting.”
She plans to study biology and is considering becoming a high school biology teacher.
“I love my environmental science and I also love working and helping people,” Patria said, adding she has been told many times she would be a good teacher.
“I have tutored people, and I have been told I am really good and explaining things. And, I really love science. I am really passionate about biology, environmental science and science so I think putting those things together being a secondary education major for biology or science is something I would succeed in.”
When she isn’t studying, running or hanging out with friends she is writing and enjoying art.
“I love art,” Patria said. “I am involved in art programs at the school and take art classes every year. I am running art clubs at my school, I am kind of the coordinator for that. Coach Breen is an art teacher, too, so we connect that way which is nice. I have been into art my whole life and have won art awards. I am really passionate about it.”
She added she combines her love of science and art as well.
“I use a lot of nature themes in my art so it goes with my passion with nature and the environment and science,” she explained.
Her advice to aspiring runners is to persevere through every challenge.
“When you are faced with a challenge don’t give up and don’t be so quick to throw in the towel,” Patria said. “Instead you have to grit – grit through the challenge. If you can grit through it, you are going to be able to get through anything.”
She added as a team captain, she would give hard workouts to her teammates and would encourage them.
“I tell the girls this work out is really hard, but if you get through this really hard workout you will be able to handle really hard things like a hard race and another hard race. You will be able to take on anything,” she said.