Molly Born

Standing under a black trellis, facing the whole student body as they sat in bleachers, senior Molly Born stood ready to walk across the court as she heard her name. Born was nominated for Homecoming court by the cross country team and walked alongside senior Michael Scott.

“It was such an honor and a privilege that Northwest would pick me to represent them in this way, and I’m proud to be able to do this,” Born said. “I don’t know what’s going to happen but I’m just so humbled to be on court.”

Hours later, Born started on a two-mile run after school was dismissed for the day. These two miles were less than half of what she had been running almost daily the year before.

Born spent her time in high school continuously working on her running. She placed fifth at the Kansas cross country championships in 2014, as a freshman. Since then, she has become a six-time state cross country champion and won many awards, including being named Gatorade Girls Kansas Cross Country Runner of the Year in 2017.

While running tends to be Born’s main focus, a roadblock appeared at the end of her junior year, preventing her from reaching her full potential during her senior year.

“I have a stress fracture in my foot from running too much,” Born said. “I got it during track season, about halfway through. I didn’t know what it was ‘til the end of the season and then I didn’t get to run state. I’ve previous three years. It was kind of sad. It definitely been one of my goals for this season to run at state one last time with my team.”

After being diagnosed with a fracture in the navicular bone of her right foot, Born spent her summer working to recover. Over the break, she kept the hope of running during her senior year in the back of her mind.

“I had surgery on it at the beginning of the summer and I thought I might be ready to run cross country this year, but I wasn’t,” Born said. “I didn’t run at all this year. I did a lot of physical therapy over the summer, but now I’m moving away from that and running more. I’m running maybe two or three miles a day, although I used to run six or seven.”

In spite of her injuries, Born didn’t stop. She continued working to get back to where she was before the injury.

“The main thing that separates her from all the people I’ve ever worked with here is that she doesn’t take seasons off,” cross country coach Van Rose said. “She just always continues to run. it builds her up, It makes her the athlete she is.”

After consulting with Rose, Born decided it would be best to not push her self, to let the injuries heal,  saving running for the spring.

“If I ran her in a state meet, well, she might have been able to do it,” Rose said. “But you can’t take a chance. If break that thing again, done.”

Although not technically on cross country, Born still practiced with her friends and worked to stay a part of the team.

“It was actually kind of fun, even though I wasn’t running,” Born said. “I got to be on the sidelines and watch the girls do their thing. It was rewarding to see all of them grow as runners and people. It was kind of still like I was on the team, I just wasn’t running.”

Even as she nursed her foot, Born refused to be completely knocked off her feet. After a fall of searching, Born signed to run at Oklahoma State University in the 2018-2019 school year.

“It was really exciting,” Born said. “But it was kind of a stressful fall trying to decide what college would be best, but I’m really glad I found it. I really like the team, the school, I love the coach. I just felt happy when I was visiting there.”

Despite not competing in the state cross country tournament , Born kept her winning streak up. A bit out of her element on the football field, the runner, nominated by cross country, took the crown during the annual Homecoming game. Hearing her name announced took Born completely by surprise. She never expected to be nominated for queen, much less to win.

“I have never thought about it until this year,” Born said. “I was just shocked. There were so many great and deserving girls on the court and I just thought ‘Wow!’ I couldn’t believe it.”

Trading in her high heels for sneakers, Born kept on running, training and working past her injury, all in the hope that she would be able to run during track season and make it back to the state tournament one last time.

“My injury has taught me how much I love running,” Born said. “You don’t know what you’re missing until it’s gone. I really missed it all that time. Running is all I wanted to do and it’s one thing I couldn’t do.”

Piper Schuerman