Prairie Ridge freshman Chelsea Gale did not take long to make her presence known on the area high school running scene.
Gale was among the top finishers in her first few varsity meets and took off from there, eventually placing 10th in the Class 2A girls race at the IHSA Cross Country State Meet in Peoria. Gale also was the Fox Valley Conference champion, the Antioch Regional champion and the third-place finisher at the Kaneland Sectional.
Gale also plays soccer for the Crystal Lake Force travel team, with whom she competed on weekends during the cross country season.
Running is in her genes, as her parents, Sean and Christine, met in college while competing at Iowa.
The Wolves’ standout is the first freshman to become Northwest Herald Girls Cross Country Runner of the Year since 2011, when Crystal Lake Central’s Sami Staples was the Class 2A state champion. The honor is selected by the sports staff with input from area coaches.
Northwest Herald senior sports writer Joe Stevenson caught up with the rookie phenom to ask her about her favorite sport, her favorite team and following her state champion mother to Detweiller Park.
Who is the most famous person you have taken a picture with?
Gale: Meghan Klingenberg, who is a soccer player on the U.S. women’s team.
If you were a soap opera character, what would your name be? (Your middle name and the name of the street you live on).
Gale: Nicole Carmella.
What would be your dream job?
Gale: I would love to be a professional athlete, but education-wise, I would like to do something that involves traveling and working with different types of people or working with animals.
If you could train with anyone in the world for a week, who would it be?
Gale: Usain Bolt.
What superpower would you most like to possess?
Gale: I would like to be able to read minds.
What is something you can’t do that you wish you could?
Gale: I wish I could run with no pain.
What do you find scary?
Gale: I find heights very scary. I can tolerate certain heights, but once you really start getting up there, that’s where I stop.
What book that you recently read would you recommend as a good read?
Gale: I really enjoy the “Cinder” series, written by Marissa Meyer.
What is one of your biggest pet peeves?
Gale: Bumps in hair.
What goes through your mind just before the starting gun goes off at a race?
Gale: Usually I’m thinking about how nervous I am, how good or bad I’m feeling, what I expect out of this race and who I want to strive to run with.
What do you like better: soccer or running?
Gale: I do not know. As of right now, I love them both equally, but we shall see what the future holds.
How long do you eat before races, and what do you eat?
Gale: Usually the night before I’m having pasta with bread and maybe a few brownies here and there. In the morning, I typically eat a protein bar two to three hours prior to the start of the race.
What was the last good movie you saw in a theater?
Gale: “Thor Ragnorak.”
What band or performer would you most like to see in concert?
Gale: I would love to see the band Pentatonix in concert.
What is your favorite class?
Gale: World studies.
What are three of your favorite Christmas movies?
Gale: “The Grinch Who Stole Christmas,” “A Charlie Brown Christmas” and “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.”
What is your favorite professional sports team?
Gale: The soccer team Chelsea FC.
How do you react after you’ve had a subpar race?
Gale: When I have one of those, I think about what I did that might have caused me to have a subpar race, and I make sure to correct that next race.
What did it mean to run at Detweiller Park for the state meet, where your mom won as a Genoa-Kingston runner in 1988?
Gale: It was special getting to experience this course that my mom ran on. I’ve always looked up to her, wanting to be like her, personality- and skill-wise. I always strive to make her proud, and I feel I did that at the state meet. And it was even more special that my mom had run the same course at the same meet. It’s mind-blowing.
What is the funniest thing that happened to you in competition this season?
Gale: At the very first meet, the McHenry County Meet, I was going around a corner, but I took it too sharp and fell right in front of my mom and sister who were standing by that turn. My mom even got a picture of it.