It was during her freshman year that Cinco Ranch senior Sophie Atkinson was dealt an awakening of sorts.
A metatarsal fracture limited Atkinson to two cross country meets during that year. Then she suffered a stress fracture to another metatarsal on the same foot that wiped out her track season.
But after eventually coming to terms with the devastation of two setbacks within months of each other, Atkinson found a wat to move forward. She leaned on her faith. Her focus turned to becoming a better teammate. And, most importantly, she realized there was a lot more to her life than running.
The last year has been quite a ride for Cinco Ranch senior runner Heidi Nielson.
A femur injury sidelined her high school cross country season after an exhausting summer representing Team USA at the Pan Am U20 Championships. Then the novel coronavirus COVID-19 abruptly shortened her track season in mid-March. The global pandemic also hindered Nielson’s recruiting, as she was unable to make visits to colleges or compete in significant events.
“It really sucked,” Nielson said. “The cross country season, I get hurt, and it was like, ‘Welp, there it goes.’ I was still hyped, I was really ready for the track season, and then everything gets shut down. I was so sad. Even now, I’m still, like, ugh.”
Still, it all worked out. A star distance runner since her eye-opening freshman season for the Cougars, Nielson verbally committed to continue her athletic career at Arkansas in an Instagram pledge on Sept. 9.