Lady Dragons runner takes classic approach to leadership

07/07/2014 2:58 PM

07/07/2014 2:59 PM

You have to go back to 441 B.C. in Ancient Greece if you want to know the story of Carroll junior cross country runner Antigone Archer and where it all started.

Well, you have to go way back if you want to learn the origin of her first name, at least.

The two-time state champion runner was given her name from the Greek tragedy play Antigone. Antigone, the lead character, was known for being wise and brave, and being loyal to her late brother and giving him a proper burial. And yet Antigone paid with her life because of her loyalty.

As deep as that is, you can sense the similar traits when Archer is talking about her teammates as they are going through their summer work and preparing for the upcoming season. All of them are addicted to running. All of them have the passion to handle all of the valleys of the sport. All of them embrace the mental demands that come with the uncertainty cross country presents.

Teams don’t win three consecutive state championships by thinking they can win. They are convinced they will win.

“You can look at the successful teams and what will draw the best out of them and keeps them running,” Archer said. “You have to have the will to run. You also add the family aspect, that you’re fighting for yourself and your family. I think that helps us have a mental edge.”

That’s usually how cross country programs go on these types of dominant runs. Everybody is in this together. They want the same things out of the season and believe in nothing but selflessness.

Archer started embracing leadership as a sophomore when Carroll won its third consecutive state championship last fall. While the journey toward the 2013 title was heralded by seniors Samanath Young, Katherine Burcham, Moriah Dadsen and Holly McFadden, they all ran behind Archer, who finished fourth overall.

There aren’t expected to be as many known quantities with seniors as the Lady Dragons prepare to push for a “four-peat” this year. That’s where Archer’s presence plays more of a role.

“Antigone’s leadership will be a key component to our season,” Carroll cross country coach Justin Leonard said. “She’s in a unique situation since she’s only going to be a junior, but she brings a ton of big meet experience with her. She also has to lay the team foundation for work ethic at practice. It’s going to be fun to watch, and she will embrace that role.”

For programs like Carroll, it could be easy for them to dismiss or even minimize the importance of the regular season meets between Labor Day and the middle of October. Indeed, these programs make their names by what they do on the second Saturday in November at Old Settler’s Park in Round Rock.

“We don’t look at it like blowing off the regular season meets,” Archer said. “We’re focused on state. But there are goals that we set during the regular season. It’s not about trying for a four peat. All we’re trying to do is go win state, this individual state championship.”

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