Darren DeLaune, MNN Sports Writer
SALLISAW — Andi Gourd is coming off a strong year in cross-country and track at Central High School in Sallisaw, Okla., where she is the only person, at her school to place in a state competition, ever. The junior came in second place in cross-country this season and took first in the one-mile and two-mile competitions for her track team this season as well. She’s also the only member on the cross-country team and the only female in track.
Cross-country courses are open-air courses covering natural terrain. There are hills, rocks, trees and, if it rains, mud. If that is not tough, then try to run the rough course for two miles.
“With cross-country, I will compete against all the other schools regardless of class,” Gourd said. “Whatever schools show up that day, whether they are 6-A or class B, I will race against them. I do not race against teams in my class until regionals and state.”
Gourd has been state runner-up in cross-country the past two years, so she had one thing on her mind last season in this event.
“I plan on winning this year,” Gourd said. “I have been state runner-up and I do not want that anymore. I know what I have to do to win this time. I know what it takes.”
She also had a successful track season.
“I’m so happy about this season in track,” Gourd said. “In my previous years I did not do too well. It seems to me that track is a lot more competitive. In this season, I was more confident, and added more muscle tone to my body, which helped out.”
These events do take a toll on the physical and mental strength of runners.
“I always walk the course for cross-country before every race,” Gourd said. “It helps me to know where there could be hazards that can hurt me, or if I can find a place to where I can overtake my opponent. This is where I map out my strategy.”
“For track it is a little bit different. What I like to do is run behind a person majority of the race and then overtake them close to the end. It really bugs them because they are worried about me beating them and are not focusing on the race at all.”
Her mother Tammy Barbee knows what a competitor her daughter is and is excited for her in her senior year.
“Andi has always loved to run,” Barbee said. “It was getting her to stop that was the problem. She is ready for her senior year and with the goals that she has set for herself, she will use this strength to get her ready for the next level.”
Her coach, Scott Lowe, had some positive things to say about Gourd on this year’s success.
“I am very pleased and very happy with Andi on what she did overall this year,” Lowe said. “She is a training beast. She never complains about anything and is more professional about things now. She now understands the science of running and what that takes. She watches what she eats and how certain foods can affect her body. Not a lot of runners will do that, especially the ones in high school. But she wants to run at the next level and knows what it takes to do that.”
Gourd would like to attend the University of Arkansas when she goes to college. She would like to become a teacher or major in journalism. She has always loved the track team for the college and hopes to continue her education as well as her running as a Razorback.
Gourd, Creek-Cherokee, is the daughter of Tammy Barbee and Brian Gourd.
(Story provided to us by Muscogee Nation News department, read this and others @ http://www.muscogeenation-nsn.gov/images/stories/pdf/MNN/aug01_2012.pdf)