With freshman Hannah Heidebrecht coming in first for Hesston, the cross country team needed less of a gap time, and more depth in their racing. Freshman Renee Buckwalter (Wellman, Iowa) filled that role this fall, consistently finishing second for Hesston. She’s improved at every meet, dropping 1:43 in the 5K this year alone, with a lifetime personal record of 20:56.
With this in mind, it’s not surprising that those around her choose one characteristic to describe her: hard-working.
Emma Schrock, Buckwalter’s friend and roommate, says she admires her most for her ambition.
“She is always wanting to improve and works hard to get things done,” she said. “She also always sets goals on what time she wants to get for the next meet which I think helps drive her motivation.”
Head cross country coach, Gerry Sieber is also quick to point out Buckwalter’s work ethic, also describing her as a quiet leader.
“She has continued to be one of our most disciplined runners in practice, and importantly, outside of practice,” said Sieber. “She is not vocal. She maybe has said two words all season! In other words she leads by example.”
Sieber is also noticing how Buckwalter’s determination is helping teammates at practice and in meets.
“It seems she has had a big influence on how well Madi Rickabaugh has run,” he said. “And Madi, being stretched and nurtured by Renee has exceeded expectations, which is really exciting for a coach.”
Buckwalter’s season ended last Saturday’s regional meet with the team ranking 7th. Buckwalter ended up at 25th, with a time of 21:13. She is already showing anticipation and raising the bar for next year.
“With getting 7th this year at regionals, I think that if we all improve our times and gain incoming freshmen, we can potentially get top three and take a team to nationals.”