Of all the excuses for coming up just short of a personal goal, Hortonville (Wisc.) cross country runner Sarah Glidden surely has the best: She ran into a deer during her state-qualifying meet.
"I could see something out of the corner of my eye and I thought it might have been a dog that somebody had on a leash," Glidden told the Appleton (Wisc.) Post Crescent. "Its hooves kind of kicked me in the shin. I felt it pretty good when it hit me, but it didn't hurt real bad. I could feel its fur on my legs. It startled me more than anything."
Glidden was outside the lead pack but would have had an outside shot at qualifying for the state meet during her run at the Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association West Division 1 cross country sectional when the deer sprinted across the course with just more than 100 meters to go. Glidden needed to finish in the top-five spots to qualify for the state meet from a team that didn't finish in the meet's top two, and her brush with the deer caused her to lose her stride and spin around, throwing off her stride and costing her valuable seconds as she fell farther behind the race leaders. The sophomore eventually regained her balance for a final push toward the finish line.
Still, the momentary delay was enough to knock her from contention for those top five spots, with Glidden eventually finishing in 18th place. Her time was some 17 seconds off her mark from just two weeks earlier at the conference championships, and Glidden said she wasn't sure she would have qualified for the state meet even if the deer had never made its fateful dash across the road.
Nonetheless, the run in also gives Glidden an excuse for the ages, though it wasn't even the first deer collision witnessed by her coach, Hortonville's Kevin Sours.
"When I was coaching in Virginia, I was at the state meet years ago and it was the same kind of deal," Sours told the Post Crescent. "A deer cut across and hit the lead girl runner. It was in the same kind of woodsy-type area."
Perhaps it's time to incorporate some of the deer-crossing signs (above) into the usual cross country repertoire.
While Glidden's cross country year might be done, she's already received plenty of reminders that there's still time left in hunting season.
"People have been saying they want to bring me deer hunting with them because I'm a deer magnet," she told the Post Crescent. "I think the whole thing is kind of funny. It's weird, but it's funny."