Is Atascocita Junior Avery Clover Underrated?

Avery Clover is a member of the outstanding girls distance class of 2021. That class has some of the best runners not only state wide, but also nationally. 

It has runners like  Heidi Nielson, Sophie Atkinson, Brynn Brown, Eva JessColleen Stegmann, and many other of Texas' best distance runners.

Last Friday, Clover, the Atascocita junior ran a great race against an outstanding field where she finished right in the thick of things. At the Friday Night Lights (FNL) Girls Varsity A race, she was fourth with a 11:47 finishing time. The times weren't great due to the course conditions, but her performance and place in that field was impressive.

It caused me to ask both myself and her if she is underrated.

Clover made her mark in the class during her freshman year. She finished fourth at the Region 3-6A cross country meet to qualify for the state meet where she eventually ran 19:06 for 58th place. Clover went on to run to a 27th place finish at NXR South that year.

"I just try to push myself as much as I can"

Avery Clover, Atascocita junior

At the 2018 Region 3-6A tack meet, she was second in the 3200m and third in the 1600m, qualifying for the state track meet in the former. She would run 11:11 at state for eighth place.

Last year, as a sophomore, Clover finished 23rd at the state cross country meet in 18:03 and was 22nd at NXR South with another good regional race. On the track, she finished third at regionals and narrowly missed qualifying for the state meet in both events and she ran PRs on the season of 5:06.77 and 10:47.47.

Back to the question, is Clover underrated?

Well, we ranked her on the third team of our preseason individual rankings at number 16, but did that mean we got it wrong? Did her fourth place finish mean that she should have been higher on our list and that she is better than she is getting credit for?

She ended last cross country season with the 18th best 5K time in the state. That time of 17:36.81 ranks her as the #10 returner for the current cross country season. Her 1600m and 3200m PRs have her ranked as #17 in the 1600 and #8 in the 3200m returners list.

Clover's NXR South finishes are a slight indication on where she stood state wide over the last two seasons. Her fourth place finish at FNL was solid and amongst the state's top runners. She beat two girls that we had ranked higher than her, However, she finished behind three girls she was supposed. 

I don't believe last weekend's performance says she is underrated, but it does say something. But, what does it mean?

Numbers don't lie. Clover's ranking was justified based on what she and other runners have accomplished over the last two seasons leading up to the start of this one. She was ranked accordingly. What numbers couldn't tell us was the mental growth, desire, and the results from it.

The Bear Branch Park course is known to not to be a fast course. Conditions weren't conducive and didn't didn't allow times from the athletes who ran to impress us. What we were shown from Clover was progression and development. She looked like her off season training and preparation has her prepared for 2019 as she looked stronger and more confident throughout the race. 

Clover outran the numbers on Friday night. In fact, she outran the numbers way before Friday night during her off season, "I just try to push myself as much as I can," Clover said. The high level of racing and her ability to handle a race of that magnitude under the bright lights, was a display that she can indeed run with the best and should be considered in such a group.

She is used to being  underrated, Clover said, "A lot of times, people underestimate my ability."

Expect Clover to consistently produce performances like this for the remainder of the season and her career. She has the talent and desire. Add that to Coach Symons' knowledge, coaching, and proven history to develop runners and will continue to out run the numbers.