Buswell wins State Championship, advances to regionals


Avalon Kate Nash, Staff Writer

   Like something out of legend, in the glow of the Fresno sun, junior Tessa Buswell stormed down the finishing stretch. Screams and cheers echoed around her, but her mind was fixated only on the hunt. At the two mile mark she had an eleven second gap to make up between her and the leader, Grace Hutchinson of the traditional cross country powerhouse, Buchanan. Buswell had shrunk the gap to a few meters, as they approached the resolution of what she had been working towards all season, the Nov. 26 Cross Country State Championships. 

   Every fiber of her being propelling her forwards to the line, fighting against the clock, she took the lead. Throwing herself across the line, she literally fell into state champion hood with a time of 17:25 over the hilly 5k course, averaging a pace of 5:36 per mile. 

   “I wasn’t expecting to win like I did, but I knew I would be in the front pack. I was super nervous, probably more nervous than I’ve ever been…I don’t think it’s completely set in yet that I’m a state champion because we drove home and returned to normal life so fast,” Buswell said. 

   The creation of a state champion is not something that just happens overnight, but is the product through years of dedication. In the case of Buswell, this could not be more true. She has been a force on the running scene since elementary school and participated in youth track and cross country. Though she has an admitted preference for middle distance running (in high school track events from the 800 to the 1600m), Buswell has proven her talent across all distances. 

   Buswell holds school records in the 800m, 5k cross country distance, 4x400m relay, distance medley relay, cross country 3 mile, and 2 mile. This track season she will have her eye on the school 1600m record of 4:48.75, held by former teammate Mackenzie Rogers who graduated with the class of 2022 and now runs for the University of Arkansas.

   This season, Buswell has focused heavily on training, dropping soccer in order to pursue cross country and track and field full time. 

   “I trained with the guys’ team this season, which I hadn’t done before, and it’s really helped me push myself to become faster than I thought was capable,” Buswell said. 

   Her teammate and fellow captain Derek Kirschbaum, had nothing but praise for Buswell. As the only other state qualifier from Poway, he got a front row seat to her victorious finish and has been training with her throughout the season. “Her accomplishments are inspirational for the whole team, and the way she leads the girl’s team is admirable,” Kirschbaum said. 

   Her win and 5k time at state gave her an individual qualifier for Nike Cross Nationals (NXN) on the Saturday morning of December 3rd. It is Buswell’s first time running at cross country nationals, and as of now she hasn’t set any goals in stone except for hoping to enjoy the onc- -in-a lifetime experience. 

   Buswell often ends up being the sole representative of Poway, as she was later at nationals. However, Buswell revels in solitude. 

   “I am not afraid of taking on the responsibility and pressure being an individual competitor requires. I like to be by myself… and being around other people can make me more nervous,” Buswell said. 

   Through trial and error she has perfected a pre-race routine that helps her get into a racing mindset. It begins with a quick power nap of 20-30 minutes, a warm-up run, drills, dynamic stretching, and strides. Drowning out the noise of the world with music is another tactic employed by Buswell. Her favorite pre-race song is “Stir Fry” by the rap trio Migos.

   Buswell hopes to pursue running professionally and commit to a Division 1 running school. She is not yet sure what she desires to major in specifically, but is interested in studying the human body. 

   “I haven’t figured out what I’m looking for in a college, but I think as I talk to coaches, I will develop more of a sense of what I want,” Buswell said.

   At Nike Cross Nationals and in the face of below freezing temperatures Buswell placed 100th out of 198th, clocking 18:48 over the 5k distance. Be prepared for big things to come from Buswell this spring as she goes into her junior track season.