Running Through History: Mia Kotler Makes Her Mark at Detweiller Park



Junior Mia Kotler runs neck and neck with Isabella Keller at the front of the pack at the two-mile mark of the Illinois State Championship Cross Country Meet.

Junior Mia Kotler, an essential member of Latin’s cross country team and one of The Forum’s very own Editors-in-Chief, ran one of the fastest times in the history of the State meet at Detweiller Park, finishing the three-mile race in a blistering time of 16:32 and taking second place.

“Mia is nine seconds off of the school record for cross country, and I’m pretty confident she can break it next year,” Head Coach Dan Daly said. The record Mia will be chasing in her final year of cross country next fall belongs to two-time Gatorade cross country athlete of the Year Ava Parekh ‘22, who is now running for Stanford.

Mia began running in Lower School, participating in the Rising Romans program. Despite the stresses that come with a high pressure sport like cross country, Mia has pushed limits, risen to many challenges, and ultimately become an integral member of the running community.

“A lot of people think of running as very individual, but especially cross country, it’s actually more of a team sport than anything else,” Mia said. “It is, really, for me, running for my team and trying to be the best we can be.” At meets, she’s passionate in supporting her team, embodying what it means to be a cross country athlete.

Coach Daly said, “Our three main holistic goals at the team are have fun, work hard, and support one another.”

“Mia, she’s been very inspirational,” senior and cross country teammate Ava Horwitz said. “She’s a very talented runner, so I look up to her. She’s very important to our team, and she brings the team together, and she pushes us to want to do well. She’s a very encouraging person, and she’s very supportive of the team.”

However, it’s not just her personality that makes her a star runner. She has a mind for competition, a running mentality that carries her for miles.

“I do like to think about my team, and it’s really nice, no matter if you’re in first place, or in this race, if you’re in 258th place, you’re all feeling the same pain,” Mia said. “It’s a shared hurt, which provides a sense of community. It makes it easier when you know everyone else is hurting too, and especially when all your teammates are out there doing the same thing you’re doing.”

This idea of a “shared hurt” is prevalent in the running community. According to The MIT Press Reader, running is largely a mental sport, one that depends heavily on encouragement. Having enough “mental energy” is key.

Coach Daly took Mia’s achievement as a recruitment opportunity. “For the broader community, if you haven’t found a sport, come join cross country, because we’re very welcoming, and running will carry you for the rest of your life,” he said.

Mia’s running carried her all the way from Rising Romans to State, the most important meet of the year. Cross country means a lot to her. “It’s a lot of things,” she said. “It takes a lot of hard work, a lot of determination, perseverance, but it’s also incredibly rewarding. It’s such a nice camaraderie between all of us, and there’s strength in numbers, so it’s always better to be in pain when everyone else is as well. It’s very fulfilling to run for something more than yourself, but also to just try to do better every time.”

Mia added, “The team is why I run.”

Her team has supported her and made it possible to reach such heights. In fact, her entire running career began with her team’s words of encouragement.

“I got into running because, I remember in Middle School, my teammates were all like, ‘We need you, you’re going to be such an important part of this team. You can help us. You can make a difference in our team score,’ and ever since then I’ve been running with people and for my team.”