X-Country Athlete of Year: Pieterse goes the extra mile

For those who run cross country in the fall and track and field in the spring, the summer is considered the offseason.

But not for Mammy’s Kitchen Cross County Athlete of the Year Lisa Pieterse of Carolina Forest High. Her training regimen is just heating up as the heat of the summer approaches.

“In the offseason I train with my mom,” Pieterse said of former Olympian Zola Budd-Pieterse, now an assistant track coach at Coastal Carolina University, “and that’s the hardest part of the year, the summers and the winters.”

Pieterse rises before the sun to run more than 6 kilometers in the humid summer months, and runs the same distance twice a day during the chilly winter months. The schedule makes the cross-country and track seasons seem like a relative break.

Pieterse credits her rigid training schedule and mom and coaches for her rapid rise up the high school cross country and track and field charts.

The rising jun ior helped the Lady Panthers’ 4×800 relay team to a state title last season, then won the state cross country title last fall. She added the 3200 meters to her credit by taking the gold at last month’s Class 3A state meet.

In addition to her success on her feet, Pieterse also has her head in the game. She is an ace student in the Horry County Schools’ Honors Program, forcing her to balance her time between athletics and academics.

“I don’t have as much time to train during the school year because of academics, so the offseason is when I train the hardest and focus the most on running,” Pieterse said.

When school reopens, Pieterse is in position to go for a repeat cross country title and a possible three-peat in her senior season. That’s when those long training days in the heat and cold will really start to pay off.

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