Oct. 31—LUVERNE — When Jenna DeBates was asked what goes through her head after winning a 5,000-meter race, a few things came to mind.
The first part of her answer was something that most runners probably think right after a race.
"When I cross the finish line, I think the first thing that goes through my mind is 'thank goodness I'm done,'" she said with a chuckle.
After that, the senior star cross country runner at Luverne High School expressed her gratitude toward her supporters, the opportunities she's had and the hard work she's done.
"But other than that, I think it's just like being thankful for having these opportunities, and definitely just being grateful that I have the coaches and the teammates there, that I've put in the hard work and I'm deserving of this."
DeBates is in her sixth season in cross country and, in that time, has seen a lot of success — especially during her senior season. She won three races during her junior year and has been a consistent Top 10 finisher since her freshman year. She said the biggest reason for her success over the years comes from her coaches.
"Whether it's the mindset or the training, they're doing their homework, they're constantly finding new things for us to do to get more positive affirmations in our heads or finding new workouts that will just push us to the next level," she said. "So I definitely think my success comes from my coaches."
This year, DeBates has taken that success to a whole new level, winning eight of her nine meets.
She started the year with wins in her first five consecutive meets before finishing as a narrow runner-up in the Willmar Glacial Lakes Invite Sept. 30. DeBates immediately bounced back and won at the Luverne Meet on Oct. 5. She then won the Big South Cross Country Meet for the second-straight year, setting a personal-record time of 18:07.3 in the process. After that, she won her first Section 3A Championship in Madison Oct. 26.
"It was one of those dreams that you don't really dream about, but a dream come true," DeBates said about winning the Section 3A title. "The section championship was obviously not the ideal weather, so it made me a little anxious going into it, but I knew that we were all going with that weather, so it was fun to win and just be there with my teammates and have that for one last section championship."
Now, DeBates looks ahead to the Class A State Championships in St. Paul, where she's come close to winning in the past. She's qualified for state every year since her first season in the seventh grade, except for 2020 when there was no meet because of COVID-19.
She finished in the top five each of the last two years, a third-place finish in 2021 and a fifth-place finish last year. This year, the top ranked Class A runner in the state every week looks to win it in her final try.
Following the cross country season in the fall, this week's Drill subject also competes in track and field in the spring. The full video is at
, but here is a sample of our interview.
QUESTION: What were some personal goals for yourself at the beginning of the season?
ANSWER: "Going into the season, I think my biggest goal was just to have fun, especially since it's my senior year. I just wanted to go out and have fun and just take everything in because you get six years of this, but it's some of the shortest six years. So I think my biggest goal was just to have fun and enjoy my time here."
QUESTION: When you look back at your time running at LHS, what are some memories that jump out to you?
ANSWER: "The memories that jump out to me the most are probably my ninth-grade year when we got second as a team, that was a fun year. And then probably the next two years after that for the different reasons of having such a successful team and then the last few years just being super close with my team, I think, has created some very good memories."
QUESTION: What are your plans after high school?
ANSWER: "My plans after high school are to attend a college to run cross country and track and major in psychology."