Story by Maggie Turner | REP YOUR SCHOOL: Montgomery Catholic
Photos by Maggie Turner and Thomas Stabler | CAScoreboard Photographer
MONTGOMERY, ALABAMA — Catherine Aaron is a senior at Montgomery Catholic, a Racing Knights co-captain, and a force to be reckoned with in both cross country and track. In Catholic’s first meet of the season, The Waffle House/Yellow Jacket Invitational, Aaron placed first in the girl’s Varsity “A” race. She placed third at the Montgomery Academy Invitational just this past Saturday.
When competition sees her coming–with times that are seemingly getting faster from meet to meet and consistent Top Ten placement, they assume that she’s been running forever.
Is she a freak of nature?
Maybe she’s just a natural?
Then there’s this theory: she was genetically modified inside of a lab to be a runner. While I cannot confirm or deny Aaron’s status as a lab rat, the fact of the matter remains she has only been running cross country and track since her sophomore year.
“You know, it’s funny,” she says, “I only started running to build up my endurance for soccer. That was my primary goal, and then I just fell in love with this sport. I can’t imagine not running.”
Aaron’s success in cross country and track is not luck. She wakes up at the crack of dawn three times a week to run before school, and then goes to the team’s scheduled practice at 3:30. She says she runs about 40 miles a week.
When asked what motivates her to put in the amount of work she does, Aaron says: “When it’s hard, I remember that I’m not going to achieve my goals if I stop. So I keep going.”
And Aaron has some fairly lofty goals.
She wants to run in college, knowing that competing will be entirely different, and she will likely go from being one of the fastest on her team to just blending into the crowd, at first. But she is not deterred by this. As Aaron said herself, she can’t imagine not running. Her love for the sport, she thinks, will push her to overcome any obstacle, and her hard work will make it possible.
Catherine Aaron’s greatness is not only evident on the track, but off of it as well. Her first year with the Racing Knights was the rebuilding year after the bulk of the powerhouse girls’ team graduated, including collegiate runners Amaris Tyynismaa and Isabelle Cochran. With fewer than 10 girls running, the mostly new girls team did well, but Aaron always saw that they could be great.
Quoting Aaron: “Ever since I started, I always wanted to have a big girls team and we haven’t had that until this year. We recruited hard during track season, and all over the summer, and it’s paying off.”
With role models for past success clear in her mind, Aaron has set her sights on greatness for this current crop of Racing Knights.
I’ve caught Catherine after practice, with plenty of Montgomery Catholic runners milling about, talking and laughing with one another and having the time of their lives. She looks around the room at all the fresh, sweaty faces that are on the team partially due to her. She smiles to herself.
“We all have a pretty tight bond, but there’s something special with the girls team,” Aaron says, “I honestly feel like we have such a sisterhood. I love my team so much and I want to be a good example for them. Even when the practices are hard, I’m really just happy and grateful to be able to run with them.”
It’s obvious to everyone that she and the Racing Knights as a whole have a bright future ahead of them, but it’s in these moments that she truly shines.
She knows every team member by name, and has a personal relationship with all of them. She is the first one to offer an encouraging smile, and the last one to complain about hard work. She is remarkable, and will undoubtedly continue to succeed.
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