Last year, the Southlake Carroll girls program had an unsuccessful season in regards to their high level of expectations and standards.
Success to the program is a state championship and an automatic qualification to Nike Cross Nationals (NXN). Last year, finished fourth in a very close state meet and then was third at NXR South, just missing out on qualifying for NXN.
While that is an impressive year for most teams, each runner for Carroll feels some sort of responsibility to continue the history and tradition that was set before them.
Graduation has seen Carroll lose a lot of their leadership and experience over the last few seasons. Losing girls like Gillian Mortimer, Cate Tracht, Sarah McCabe, and Sofia Santamaria last year, leaves Carroll without a single girl on this year's team to have the experienced of winning a state title and having run at NXN, which hasn't happened since 2004.
Senior Jenna Holland has been a part of the Carroll program since her freshman year and running on a Carroll team to win a state title and represent her school, team, and state at NXN is what every girl who competes at Carroll dreams of.
This year is her opportunity and she is taking it by the horns. Holland has competed in three meets, so far this season and she has three PRs and three top 10 finishes.
At Friday Night Lights, Holland finished in sixth place with a 12:02.20 in the two mile distance. She followed that up at Marcus I Invitational where she ran 17:03.24 in the adjusted three mile race, and then she PRed in the 5K at the Southlake Carroll Invitational in 18:25.23.
If Carroll doesn't win state or make it to NXN this year, it won't be due to a lack of effort from Holland. She is the Lady Dragons' number one runner as she has been their consistent low stick in each race. Her efforts has her team as the top team in the state. Her squad has a 18:59.80 team average and a 48 second split based on their SB times.
Entering the season, Holland wasn't necessarily pegged to be the number one runner this year, Grace Williamson was expected to lead the way for Carroll this year and help get them back to the top. The junior has been held out resting during the first three weeks of the season in preparation for the championship season. That has put the workload on the back of the senior, Holland.
Holland's response has been one of necessity and could prove to be key when Carroll decides to roll out their entire team at full strength.
Opportunities come once in a lifetime. For now, we'll continue to watch the senior take on the leadership role and put the team on her back. If Carroll wins their first state title since 2013 and/or gets back to NXN, it could be because Holland seized her opportunity and didn't let it go.