Bigger school, bigger team?

Allie Hickenbotham, features writer

Moving from a school of 300 to 1,800 and from a girls’ cross country team of one to 55, Shiloh Johnston, junior, did not know what to expect from KHS.

“I was extremely nervous,” Johnston said. “I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, I’m going to get lost in this big new school and not make any new friends.’”

Johnston moved to Kirkwood from Jefferson County, MO, after her mom got a new job as a middle school teacher at Carrlane Middle School in St. Louis. Johnston said she lived in the country and getting anywhere was a 10-15 minute drive.

“When I heard the news of moving I thought it was a joke and it was a big change for me,” Johnston said. “I didn’t want to leave the country or all my friends in the middle of high school.”

Johnston knew one person at KHS before leaving her old home, Gabby Sousou, who attended a private school known as Our Ladies with Shiloh. By joining the cross country team, she met lots of new kids. At her old school, Shiloh ran with the boys’ team since there were no girls to run with.

“When I ran with boys, it was harder to talk to them because they were faster than me,” Johnston said. “With girls it’s different. It’s easier to talk to them and we have so much more in common.”

Johnston has run cross country every year except her sophomore year, because she realized she had breathing problems that were more serious than she thought. After one of her races she felt like something was wrong, and she collapsed. After seeing several heart and lung doctors, taking breathing tests and electrocardiograms (EKG), Johnston had become impatient. She had to wait until the end of cross country season for test results and they finally told her when the season was over. There was never a diagnosis. The problems eventually died away and she now runs without struggling.

Johnston’s favorite part of running is the support and fun her teammates have to offer. Though she has had thoughts of quitting when times are tough, she is still committed to the sport.

“Sometimes I wonder why I run,” Johnston said. “I always feel so tired during the races, but the feeling of accomplishment at the end is the reason I’m still do it.”

Maeve Bradfield, sophomore, also runs cross country and this is her first year. Bradfield can’t imagine what it would be like to be the only girl on the team, like Shiloh was.

“I wouldn’t have liked [being the only girl on the team] because I have learned cross country is a team sport,” Bradfield said. “All the girls support me and my team has made me a better runner because of it.”

Johnston really likes the cross country coach at KHS, Coach Gina Woodard, and how understanding Woodard is if you aren’t feeling well or aren’t running your best. Woodard made KHS seem small for Johnston. Woodard is happy to have Johnston as a member of the team and sees she is a strong runner and competitor.

“[Shiloh] is very mentally and physically strong,” Woodard said. “She’s tough and for the month she’s been here she’s done nothing but improve.”