Why Pagone was selected:
Finishing the 3-mile course in 18 minutes, 23.0 seconds, Oswego senior Grace Pagone won the Joliet Central Steelmen Invitational on Sept. 9 at Channahon Community Park.
Pagone, second place last year in a photo finish at Joliet, led Oswego to the team championship of the Steelmen Invitational. Oswego had placed second the last five years. Pagone, three-time all-conference in cross country and track and a member of the 2015 state cross country team, talked to Ledger sports editor Joshua Welge about her big meet and the season ahead. Here is an edited version of the transcript.
Welge: How determined were you to run a great race after losing such a close race last year?
Pagone: We had been second to Neuqua Valley the last five years, so the team was my focus. Whatever happened with me, happened. With 800 meters left I took over and I was super-excited.
Welge: What was your race strategy?
Pagone: (Oswego teammate) Isabelle (Christiansen) and I were planning on running together and pushing through the race to see where it takes us. I just wanted to stick with Isabelle, trust her and trust the pack.
Welge: Your team has moved up from 14th to eighth in the Illinois Cross Country and Track and Field rankings. Do you pay attention to that rankings stuff?
Pagone: It's actually a great confidence boost. I love keeping up with it. If other people are noticing it, why shouldn't we notice it?
Welge: You run cross country, and you run track. Do you have a preference?
Pagone: I'm a lover of cross country. I think track is fun too but the atmosphere of cross country and being able to run on grass and not just in a huge loop, it feels great.
Welge: What is your weekly running regimen?
Pagone: Usually every week we do 40, 45 miles. There might be a week we go 46. The last two weeks we're around 42-43.
Welge: How'd you get started running?
Pagone: In seventh grade I had to choose between volleyball and cross country. My older sister (Maggie) chose volleyball. I wanted to do something different.
Welge: Are you running in college?
Pagone: I definitely want to join a running club, but I don't think I'll run for a college because I want to go to a bigger school. I'm pretty set on Nebraska to study psychology.
Welge: Why Nebraska?
Pagone: It's in the middle of nowhere, but it just feels like home.
Welge: So, before we go, do you have a favorite race-day snack?
Pagone: I'm obsessed with the Gatorade power bars, but my mom forces me to have a banana.