Ursuline junior Kimberlee Sewester (pictured above), who has been running competitively since the sixth grade, appreciates the individualism of cross country and likes that winning a race or beating a time is based solely on her own performance. “With running, everything depends on me,” she says. “I’m always thinking about the other runners around me during a meet, trying to catch up and pass my competitors. Or if there is a hill or long flat stretch, I focus on my stride and motivate myself mentally.”

Her self-motivation and competitive nature have earned her a spot on the varsity cross country team since freshman year. “It’s based on time instead of grade level,” Sewester explains. “The top seven runners with the fastest times are on varsity.” The season officially started in the beginning of August, and the team, which has 24 girls, already has a couple of meets under its belt. Practices are six days a week, and the coach gives everyone an optional workout on their day off. “We’ve mapped courses on campus or will run in the neighborhoods around Ursuline or at a nearby track,” Sewester says. The meets are scattered throughout St. Louis and are all a 5K course. “I really like the Forest Park and Jefferson Barracks courses,” she notes. “Those meets are always fun. When we’re practicing, I like to run Grant’s Trail.”

Sewester is returning this fall after a notable sophomore year. She met her personal goal of finishing a race in under 21 minutes, and now hopes to beat that by completing a course in under 20. She also was the only one of her teammates to make it to State in Jefferson City. “I was in the top 30 runners at Sectionals, which qualified me for the State meet,” she says. “It was overwhelming and so incredible. There are so many runners present, whether they are competing or just there for support, and lots of coaches and family members. It’s such a positive environment. It was an honor to be there.”

She hopes to return to state with a few of her teammates this year, and by her senior year, she wants everyone on varsity to make it to State. When the season ends, Sewester doesn’t slow down. She plays guard on the basketball team later in the fall (she’s played since the fourth grade) and in the spring, she runs track. “I do longer distances, like the 400-, 800-, 1600- or 3200-meter races,” she says. “I don’t think I could choose a favorite sport. I wouldn’t want to quit any of them!”

Photo: Henry Henize

[dual power]
Tyler England, a senior at Christian Brothers College, was busy over the summer getting ready for the fall football season. He practiced four days a week and attended various camps to earn his spot as a starting safety and on most of the special teams units. He also takes a turn playing outside linebacker.

England readily admits he’s super competitive, which shows in his dedication to baseball as well, a sport he’s been playing since he was 4. “You could throw me into a swimming pool, and I’d give it my all,” he says. “When it’s sports or school, I just like to do the best I can.”

He’s somewhat of a football legacy at CBC. His grandpa, three uncles, three cousins and dad all attended the high school, and five played football. “I’m the last one of the family to go through, and the only one who has played baseball.” He doesn’t favor one sport over the other, probably because he’s had great success in both. Both teams won the state championship last year. “It was an awesome year,” England says. “I was blessed to play with two great groups of guys.”

The 2014 football State title was the first in the history of the school’s program. “Both coaches have been there awhile; my cousins played for them when they made it to the State finals, and I remember watching that game as an eighth-grader. They lost, and my classmates and I vowed to get the title when we were on the team.” It was a lofty goal, and one the team hopes to repeat this season. “I’m excited to go out every Friday night and put forth our best effort to win,” England says. “Football is all about the momentum leading up to the playoffs.”

He hopes to have similar success on the baseball diamond. “It was fun watching how we grew as a team as the season progressed last year,” England notes. “We had a lot of great seniors, like Matt Vierling, who now is playing at Notre Dame. It was cool to play with such talented teammates. I got to start in left field for the State game, so that was exciting.” He finished his club season with the Louisville Slugger Warriors at the end of July and will start high school practice in January. No matter the sport, England will no doubt bring his must-win attitude to the field.

Sport-Mick-Hanrahan2talk to… [ mick hanrahan ]
The Webster Groves High School senior always has enjoyed the competitive aspect of playing sports. As he’s gotten older, the soccer player says he now appreciates the camaraderie of his teammates, both with his club and high school teams. Between practices, games, playing trumpet in the marching band and school work, Hanrahan keeps a full schedule.

Q How long have you been playing soccer?
A Since I was 5 or 6. I got into it with a CYC League at Holy Redeemer and started playing club ball in second grade under Coach Cashel, who is my coach at Webster now. I switched to Gallagher for club my eighth-grade year and now play on the St. Louis Scott Gallagher U18 NPL team.

Q What position do you play?
A I play holding midfield for Webster, which is in the middle of the field. I sit in front of the back four (the four defenders) and dictate play, so the game runs through me. I like the responsibility, and I’m always involved so I never get bored on the field.

Q When did the season start?
A We practiced three days a week over the summer and went to Kansas City to play two teams there for ‘friendlies’ to get ready for the season. Official tryouts were at the beginning of August, which is when we started practicing every day. Games go through the end of November.

Q How did your team finish last year?
A We won the State Championship last year, the first ever in our school’s history, so that was really cool. The entire community was behind us. We played the final game in Kansas City. Llywelyn’s in Webster had a live stream of the game, and it was packed. They replayed the game at school one day too. You have to win Districts, Sectionals and Quarter Finals to make it to the State tournament. If you lose one game, you’re out.

Q Do you have any goals for this year?
A For the team, we just want to win State again.