Aquin's first cross-country runner makes strides in the sport

As the high school cross-country season comes to an end, athletes are hard at work, trying to qualify their school for state. For Freeport Aquin, it's all up to Bald in her first season running for the Bulldogs.

"I started running this summer and it was really fun and people say it's senior year so make the most of it, so that's what I'm trying to do," Bald said. "Just to stay active and just to do something different."

The problem was, Aquin didn't have a cross-country program. Though Bald wasn't going to stop short of her mission.

"When she was looking for someone to coach her, I said if you want to do this, we'll do it," said Rosemarie Brubaker, Aquin's Superintendent. "It's just been so exciting to watch her through this journey."

With the help of Brubaker, Bald represented Aquin as its only runner this season.

"Well, my first meet, I placed really well which really surprised me, so I knew I could place well in all the other meets," Bald said.

The senior may be new to the sport, but she's no stranger to athletics. Playing basketball, softball and golf - which is also in the same season as cross-country.

"Maggie is probably the most dedicated person I know," said Sedona Smith, Aquin senior and Bald's golf teammate. "If she's not golfing, she's playing basketball, if she's not playing basketball, she's running."

Bald had a goal in mind of being in the top 30, and at the 2A Winnebago Regional last Saturday, she exceeded it. With a time of 19:38, coming in 16th place, she learned she advanced to sectionals.

"This helps a lot, it makes me motivated and it makes we want to achieve more in all my other sports," Bald said.

The senior said she knew she'd be able to take on the challenge with her family and friends there to cheer her on.

"She has a drive in front of her and this sport will only help her with her other ones, especially the fortitude it takes to run these races," said Mike Bald, Maggie's father.

The drive to continue running, and the fortitude to keep trying new things -- even when starting a few steps behind the rest.

Bald will run at 10 a.m. in the Oregon Sectional on Saturday, where she will have opportunity to qualify for State.