Running her way to states: Deskins places herself on the record board

RUNNING ROLES | Even though she is only a sophomore, Lillian Deskins’ success has helped to shape her into someone her teammates can look up to, according to cross country coach Scott Cooper. “She plays a great leadership role, as a role model,” Cooper said. “People look at her and see how hard she works, which sets the tone for everybody else to be working hard.”

Photo credit: Courtesy of Marie Worden Thomas

RUNNING ROLES | Even though she is only a sophomore, Lillian Deskins’ success has helped to shape her into someone her teammates can look up to, according to cross country coach Scott Cooper. “She plays a great leadership role, as a role model,” Cooper said. “People look at her and see how hard she works, which sets the tone for everybody else to be working hard.”

By Kaitlyn Barr and Isabella Boedeker

While many athletes view running as a punishment, for sophomore Lillian Deskins, track and cross country are her essence— nothing compares to the feeling of tying up her laces and letting her muscles take control for miles. On Oct. 29 at the MHSAA Girls’ Cross Country Region meet, Lillian Deskins managed to run the course in 18:57.3, which is a new personal record for her and has put her 8th on the school record board.

Although Lillian Deskins has been able to succeed as a top runner, she has had to overcome multiple hurdles. Last year during track season she struggled with some health issues.

“I was frustrated because I was putting the work in and the results just didn’t show,” Lillian Deskins said. “It made me wonder, am I even cut out for this? I just was not the runner I thought I should be.”

It took more than running for Lillian Deskins to accomplish a new PR time. The mental aspect is just as vital as the physical. Strategies flowed through Lillian Deskins mind while her feet continued to do the objective. 

“[During the race] I found a pack of girls that I knew were really fast runners and I just stuck with them, and I kept telling myself pick it up, literally just 10 more minutes, and you have your spot,” Lillian Deskins said. “My biggest goal was to make it to states, but part of me was wondering how fast I could actually go and if I could break the record.”

After a successful run at the regional meet, Deskins qualified for the state meet. Although her race did not go as well as she had hoped due to rough weather conditions, she still managed to persevere while competing against the best runners in Michigan. Her dedication has not gone unnoticed by others, as teammates including senior captain Eyrn Cosgrove are inspired by her willingness to push herself.

“Her success is all because of her own hard work,” Cosgrove said. “She deserves everything she’s gotten because she has put in all the effort to get there.”

Teammates and coaches traveled two hours to spend the day cheering Lillian Deskins on at the state meet. While she has a pool of supporters, she would consider her biggest supporter to be her father, Les Deskins.

Photo credit: Courtesy of Andrew Fegan

Between biking behind her during night runs and exchanging information regarding running, Les Deskins plays an active role in Lillian Deskins’ life. He frequently encourages her to take what she learns from sports and apply it elsewhere.

“It’s important to us that Lillian takes advantage of the lessons that running provides for her overall growth as a person,” Les Deskins said. 

By prioritizing herself and working hard Lillian Deskins is able to dominate the clock. On top of her health struggles, Lillian Deskins has also faced mental stressors before races, according to cross country coach Scott Cooper. Cooper says

he has had to calm her nerves before each race so she can run to her full potential.

“My job is to settle her down because she gets very nervous and stressed for the races so I have to work with her to calm herself down,” Cooper said.

Cooper has enjoyed coaching her because of her determination and willingness to work. He has noticed an improvement in both areas in the past two years.

“She’s a very coachable person,” Cooper said. “She’s always asking how she can improve and when I give her advice she takes it.”

Through cross country, Lillian Deskins has managed to rediscover her love of sports and competition. Her hard work and dedication allow her to succeed and stand out to those around her.

“[Lillian] is disciplined,” Les Deskins said. “[She] has established a standard of preparation and commitment that is like nothing I’ve seen from a youth athlete. She simply does not waver from her regimen.”

Her success is all because of her own hard work,” Cosgrove said. “She deserves everything she’s gotten because she has put in all the effort to get there.”

— Eryn Cosgrove