Spotlight on State Champion Marianne Mihas

Charlotte Cronister The following article was written in Charlotte’s Sports Journalism ISP. Imagine walking into the O’Brien Stadium on the campus of Eastern Illinois University as a freshman in high school, soon to compete in the State Championship for track and field. You see big rows of bleachers on both sides and all sorts of people roaming around, which only creates more knots in your stomach and intensifies the nerves. Most people feel this way because it’s a completely normal human reaction, yet there are some exceptions. Athletes who are extremely talented and mentally tough only become more competitive and confident in the face of this pressure, and there is one Latin School of Chicago athlete who best exemplifies this exception: Marianne Mihas. Only in her sophomore season, Marianne went down state for cross country last fall and placed third overall, which was an improvement from the year before when she had strep and finished 18th. Marianne has already won the State Championship in track as a freshman for the 1600 meter race (one mile), and she looks to have the same success during the upcoming track season this spring. “I feel more confident in track,” she says, “…especially on the day of the finals, it was like woah, this is a big deal.” This championship atmosphere is not unfamiliar to Marianne: in middle school she placed fifth, third, and first in the Cross Country State Series (IESA), and won the 1600 meter and the 800 meter for the Track State Series, while also winning the Cross Country National Youth Championships in her final year. “Marianne is fearless and does not hesitate to suffer to accomplish a goal, whether that be a certain time or place,” says Ava Parekh, a freshman teammate. Like her teammates say, Marianne is a “determined” runner who uses practices as an opportunity to get better. One teammate, sophomore Henry Coleman, describes her as a “competitor” who “brings motivation and drive to every practice, which really helps her improve herself as much as possible.” Despite all the work she has put in to be so successful, there have been times when things didn’t go as expected for Marianne. As any athlete knows, there are some days when your competition outperforms you, but there’s also times when you don’t perform well. “On days that I lose and I should have won, it’s the feeling of damn, I really should have won,” she said. “Often I feel like I should have tried harder, like how could you not have sucked it up and ran faster?” Marianne, like all competitive athletes, puts a lot of pressure on herself because she knows that she’s meant to perform well. It’s not as though she has a fear of letting people down, but she believes that “knowing that if you don’t hit this mark or you don’t get this time or reach this place, people are gonna be like oh, she didn’t do as well as I thought.” Dan Daly, Marianne’s cross country and track coach, has coached many great athletes at Latin, but Marianne stands out from the others. “Many have worked their way up through the years to develop maturity, remaining calm and focused before competitions, being fierce when needed, having confidence in themselves and their teammates,” Daly said. “The main difference between most of them and Marianne is that she came to high school with all of those great traits inherent in her already.” The development of these qualities stem from way back in third grade, which is the year she started her competitive running career. Usually when kids begin playing sports, they tend to do them for fun and to create friendship and a sense of community. Marianne was different. In the words of another coach, Michelle Parekh, “I have coached Marianne since third grade and could tell she had potential from the start.” The first race that Marianne remembers does not have a happy ending. She didn’t win a first place trophy or compete in her first cross country meet, but she remembers how she would always get second. “My first competitive race I sort of remember was Roman’s Run, and Owen Kmety would always beat me,” says Marianne. “That was the first race I remember and being like damn, I really wanted to win.” “As I got better and better, it was sort of addicting,” Marianne says. “Cause once you start winning it’s hard to stop.” And she hasn’t stopped winning since third grade. Not only does success empower her, but it pushes Marianne’s teammates as well. “I have learned that those who elevate others are beyond special,” says Michelle Parekh.”It takes humility and selflessness to take others with you to new heights. Marianne has that quality.” Imagine being asked how you want to be remembered. It’s scary, right? How do you think a sophomore in high school comes up with the answer to this question? Well, if you thought that a kid couldn’t do this, think again. “I want to be remembered as a killer athlete…so I hope my legacy is like wow, she was a super competitive, super talented athlete,” Marianne says. “So I guess it’s a little broader than being a great runner. I want people to remember me as a gamer.” Marianne already has accomplished so much in her two short years in high school, and she shows no sign of stopping. From the student body, to her teammates, and to her coaches, Marianne is considered a super competitive and talented athlete. The fact that she is a star on a multitude of teams gives reason to believe that she’s also reached her goal to be thought of as a gamer. It’s exciting to see how the rest of Marianne’s career at Latin plays out, and students will see more trophies filling the cases and more records being broken by the time she’s gone.]]>