Even after spending much of the cross-country season running at a pace slower than she is used to due to an old injury, West Deptford High School senior Millie Kipp showed she can still hang with the best.
Kipp—who spent most of the summer recovering from a double stress fracture she suffered last spring—finished fifth at the Colonial Conference All-Star Meet, Thursday. Her time was nowhere near what she wanted, but these days she is just happy to be back running with top competition.
“I was trying to start out fast and keep it going,” said Kipp, who finished the course at Pennypacker Park in 20 minutes, 10 seconds. “I was trying to break 19 and didn’t I break 20, but I’m just thankful that I am running right now. I just have to keep it in perspective.”
Expectations have been tempered around Kipp this season as head coach Bob Cooper and the coaching staff had her ease into the season to make sure there were no setbacks. Kipp only started pushing herself at last week's Gloucester County Championships (she placed seventh) and took another step forward Thursday.
“Coming back from the way she has from two stress fractures, she has progressed really well,” said Cooper. “She has been very positive. She has her down times, but most of the time she has been very, very positive. Our key from the beginning of the season was just to key on this meet and sectionals in two weeks. The other meets were just stepping stones for times."
Kipp is still battling through shin splints, but said she has no remaining pain from the stress fractures. More difficult than any pain she has dealt with has been fighting the need to press harder. Kipp knows she has better times in her, but also knows she has a spring season and possible future at college to keep in mind.
“It’s takes a lot of patients and it can be hard at times,” said Kipp. “You expect certain things of yourself and expect to be fast, and you just have to be patient and trust that what you are doing for your body will be better in the end.”
West Deptford only had two other runners compete and both had reason to leave happy. Mackenzie Thayers placed 13th with a personal best time almost two minutes lower than her previous time at Pennypacker. Kiersten Cooper also set a personal best.
The Eagles will certainly have four girls set to run at sectionals, but there is still some question regarding if they will have the five necessary to be scored as a team and have a chance to qualify for the State Championships. Gabbie Cox is recovering from a knee injury and if all goes well the next two weeks, has a chance at being ready for the meet, according to Cooper.
Kipp is likely to place in the top 10 in Group 2, which would gain her automatic entry to states, but said it would be even more meaningful if she was able to go as part of a team.
“It would be really awesome,” said Kipp. “I like my team. “We all work really hard and get along really well. To be with my team in my senior year would be a really good end to my (cross-country) career.”
On the boys side Ray Parsons and Dale Johnson were the top West
Deptford finishers, placing ninth and 10th, respectively.