Page 28 - Scene Magazine 45-02 February 2020
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But there were definitely times that I was frustrated in myself for letting my little sis- ter beat me.” Hannah admits that Emma helped to make her a better runner with Emma pushing her to a PR of 20:34. “If
it wasn’t for the competiveness between us and her pushing me, I don’t think I would have ran the times that I had.” Emma felt bad when she first started leaving Hannah in the dust. When the first opportunity came to pass Hannah in a race Emma felt torn in the middle. She questioned herself. “Should I pass my sister or shouldn’t I.” But just as Hannah eventually got used to it so did Emma.
As satisfying as beating her older sister was, Emma would eventually ex- perience the same frustration as Hannah when Sarah became a member of the cross country team as a freshman. Emma would go on to make a name of herself as a Harper Creek cross country runner. She ended her career with a PR of 20:00 and would punch her ticket to the state meet her senior year, qualifying as an indi- vidual. When Sarah finished ahead of her the first time, Emma’s accomplishments as a runner helped to ease the pain but
it still put a chink in her running armor. Fortunately for Emma, Sarah was a fresh- man during her senior year so she would only have to deal with the stigma for one season. Emma and Sarah would quickly get over the uncomfortable feeling of a younger sister challenging an older sister. They would become perfect training partners for Emma’s senior year. Emma considers a 400 repeat workout that she and Sarah completed together as one of her most memorable running moments.
Emma would go on to define her legacy as a runner after high school running as a college freshman for Kellogg Community College. Emma does not lack for confidence when it comes to running. This confidence would force her to go after a bucket list goal sooner than what she may have wished for. Emma talked about her experience as a marathon runner. “Last Thanksgiving I told my older brother Jordan that I was going to run a marathon. Jordan agreed to run it also. We decided to train for the 2019 Kala- mazoo Marathon. My time was around five hours. It was the hardest thing that
I have ever been through but I couldn’t quit. If Jordan was going to finish a marathon so was I.” The running accom- plishments of the four youngest Berning sisters are comparable but for now Emma
has separated herself from Hannah, Sarah and Madi with her marathon finish. Sarah, who probably has the greatest
raw athletic running ability in her family would have her entire sophomore year
to claim the Berning glory for herself
with Emma off to college and younger sister Madi still in middle school. With her overall athletic ability, Madi’s future as a cross country runner was something that her mom Laurie seemed unsure of with her comments during our interview. “Madi had played volleyball outside of school athletics in middle school. She was good at it, enjoyed it, and had developed great friendships with other girls that she had played with. If she wanted to play volley- ball in high school she would have to give up cross country. I was surprised that she chose cross country but I couldn’t be happier with her decision.”
Madi would find herself in a position
to take the baton from her sister of two years just a few races into Sarah’s junior year, finishing in front of her at the Lakev- iew Invitational. If it was difficult to pass her older sister she kept it inside but it was the all-city meet a few days later that would have her feeling unsure what to do. She and Sarah found themselves alone
in the lead early on for the all-city meet. They ran side by side pushing each other each stride. With a tenth of a mile to go Madi found an extra gear. Although she questioned challenging her sister for the gold after running stride for stride with her the entire race, she would out kick Sarah to claim all-city champ. What made this accomplishment so impressive for Team Berning was Madi and Sarah finishing one, two at the all-city meet, a memory that the family can cherish for years to come. Madi admitted to Laurie after the race that she felt bad for leaving her sister
behind for the final stretch. She wasn’t really sure if she should finish ahead of her or let her sister win.
As difficult as it was for Hannah and Emma to have a younger sister challenge them, it seemed to take on a whole new level of turmoil for Sarah when Madi challenged her. Madi and Sarah became great training partners and were Harp-
er Creek’s top two runners the entire season. They would take turns in the lead and take turns finishing as first Berning but it still remained a mental challenge for Sarah. She would become so stressed about the race between her and Madi before every competition that she would often throw up before the race began.
Hopefully it is in the cards for Madi and Sarah to get over the uncomfortable feelings that come with this precious sib- ling rivalry. Both girls have cemented their legacy with Harper Creek Cross Country with Sarah already finding her place on the Harper Creek Alumni Top ten board with Madi just behind. Both girls ran times in the nineteen’s this past season. They have one more season together as team mates. With both of them pushing each other the potential is there for an unfor- gettable season next fall.
All four girls share a love for the sport that they hope keeps them running into adulthood and beyond. Hannah talks about what draws her to the sport. “I love that running is something that you can always improve upon. You’re going to
get faster or you’ll build endurance and be able to run longer.” The social aspect of the sport is something that Hannah also discussed. “There’s also a social aspect to cross country that I love. While training in high school, I would train with the same girls five to six days a week, running six plus miles with them. We would see each other at our worst and
at our best, building a relationship that made us a second family.” Running is not always a cake walk Hanna explains. “One of the worst feelings is when you train
so hard and you feel like you prepare to the best of your abilities, just to fall short. It’s also difficult coming to terms with not being where I used to be. I peaked at my fastest time my junior year. I was nowhere close to where I used to be time wise my senior year. It’s a hard thing to accept that sometimes you’re not able to do what you used to be able to do.”
Hannah found it hard to keep up with a running routine after high school. She
Sarah and Madison

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