Skyline’s Hotek enjoying stellar senior season

Skyline's Carrie Hotek runs at a recent practice. Hotek, who won the Class 3 Northwestern District individual title earlier this season, will be running in the Class 3 Cross Country State Championships on Friday. Rich Cooley/Daily

FRONT ROYAL – In the past, Carrie Hotek liked to train and run all the time. This season the Skyline cross country senior has realized that sometimes it’s OK to take a day off.

The new mentality has paid big dividends for Hotek and the Hawks this season.

“I’ve been training hard, but embracing rest days,” Hotek said. “So I think my muscles actually feel ready to go on race day. In the past, I’ve just been sore, and I’m just not excited to run because I just don’t feel ready for it.”

The last two years Hotek has done well during the regular season, but would then not do as well as she would have liked in the postseason.

Hotek said this season the team has changed some of its training,  which has also helped her have the best season of her career. She said she’s finally found the balance between not overdoing it with her training and getting the most out of what she does.

“I tend to be someone who overtrains when in all honesty you just need to take a day off and drink a cup of coffee and not run,” Hotek said. “Finding balance in running, just like in life, you really do have to find balance. And get after it when you’re going but then enjoy the off day.”

Hotek is not only having a great senior season but a great postseason. She won the Class 3 Northwestern District Individual title in a time of 19:10.3 two weeks ago.

“That was such a great experience,” Hotek said. “I’ve always wanted to break the tape. I know it sounds silly, but it was just so fun. You worked so hard to get there and then you actually won it.”

Last week in the Region 3B Championships, Hotek finished second after leading most of the race. James Monroe’s Virginia Beringer passed her in the last half mile and held on for the title.

Hotek along with teammate Sabrina Wilkins will be running in Friday’s Class 3 State Cross Country Championships held at Great Meadows in The Plains.

Hotek said she played many other sports, including basketball, volleyball, and soccer until her freshman year at Skyline.

“I played basketball, and everyone thought I was crazy because I loved doing suicides, the punishment of every sport,” Hotek said. “So my coaches were joking around like, ‘why don’t you try track or cross country?’ And so I took their word for it. I tried out for it, and I loved it. And I’ve been running ever since.”

Hotek has since given up every sport except running cross country and track.

In her first cross country race as a sophomore, Hotek won the Central Invitational.

“I didn’t expect that at all,” Hotek said. “So that just made me think, ‘hey maybe I’m not terrible at this.’ And ever since then, I’ve just been trying to see how many races I can win.”

Wilkins has played a key role in Hotek’s success as well.

The pair has gone back-and-forth outrunning each other for the last three years.

“It’s just so fun,” Hotek said of running with Wilkins. “I didn’t even know her before I started this sport. So now being able to see her every day, if she’s running harder I’m like, ‘oh gosh, I’ve got to run harder too.’ It’s a really fun time.'”

Hotek said she’s “extremely competitive.” She said part of that comes from being the youngest of nine children. She said all of her siblings played sports, but none of them ran cross country.

“They all thought I was crazy,” Hotek said with a smile. “They were all like, ‘why would you want to run cross country; that sounds like torture.'”

Skyline coach Rodger Seemiller said that Hotek is one of the top athletes that he’s coached in his 40 years of coaching. He said her work ethic is second to none and that she’s smart and a great leader.

“Ever since her first year here (Hoetk’s teammates) voted her for captain – three years in a row,” Seemiller said. “She’s a leader. And I can call her up and say, ‘I’m running late, can you get practice started?’ And she’ll have it started. They listen to her better than they do me.”

Hotek has one last cross country race for the Hawks on Friday, and she said she just wants to do the best she can.

“Obviously, I am so nervous, and this is my last race of cross country,” Hotek said. “So I just want to walk away with a calm knowing that I really couldn’t have done any better.”