RENSSELAER — Rensselaer Central junior distance runner Amzie Maienbrook has come up short twice in her bid to reach the cross country state meet.
But she isn’t the type of person to fret over missed chances. Instead, she has a cup’s half-full outlook instead of one that is half-empty.
“You have to let the chips fall where they may,” she said after competing in the New Prairie Semistate in each of the past two years. “What makes the sport so fun is not the day of semistate. I don’t think it would be the day of the state meet either. It’s the team being with you every day, the hard workouts you don’t think you’re going to get through and then you do. Really pushing yourself, that’s what makes cross country so fun.”
The team’s top runner in regional and semistate meets — she lost out to teammate Kelsey Wuethrich in each of the last two sectionals — Maienbrook fell five spots shy of qualifying for state at last year’s New Prairie Semistate. She placed 23rd overall.
In 2018, as a freshman, she finished 25th overall, falling three positions short of a trip downstate.
Getting to state before she hangs up her Bomber shoes continues to be a goal, but it’s not the end-all if she doesn’t reach it.
“It’s a realistic goal to get there by the end of high school, but that’s not my top priority this season,” she said. “I really just want to improve. I think if my times improve and I don’t get to state, it is what it is. With me being so close, hopefully if my times improve I’ll get there, but bettering myself is my number one goal.”
With Wuethrich graduating in the summer, Maienbrook no longer has someone to push her in practice each day. Instead, she’s pushed herself through workouts while waiting for one of her teammates to pull close.
Currently, freshman Ava Barten, who has been a consistent second scorer for coach Sid Dobson’s squad, is closing the gap with Maienbrook.
“Kelsey will definitely be missed,” Maienbrook said. “I really love running with her a lot. We have some really good underclassmen: Solcy Sanchez, Baylie Wuethrich and Rheannon Pinkerman are sophomores. We have three freshmen who are looking super promising with Ava Barten and the Rentschler twins.
“I have no doubt one of them will push me and I will be pushing them by the end of the season.”
This year’s girls’ team features a handful of seniors, but Maienbrook has become a primary leader due to her success. So far, she’s finished in the top three in both of the Bombers’ invitational appearances at Crown Point (third) and North White (second).
On Saturday, she finished fifth while competing against some of the best runners in Central Indiana at the Lafayette Harrison Invitational.
“We have some great seniors, but I’m definitely higher up on the scale than I’ve ever been being an upperclassman,” Maienbrook said of her new leadership role. “It’s interesting having freshmen come up to me asking how to do a certain workout. It’s been fun.”
A nagging injury during the spring slowed Maienbrook down some, forcing her to take a few weeks off. Then news came that the spring track season would be canceled due to the pandemic.
But Maienbrook soldiered on through the spring and summer months, excited to compete again in the fall.
“I took a month off near the holidays,” she said. “I continued running in national races and I started training for track from January first. After track got canceled, I had some muscle injury I didn’t want to let fester anymore, so I took a couple of weeks off to let that heal. But I haven’t stop running since then.
“Whatever little bit (of competition) we get this year I’ll appreciate.”