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After the downfall

Zanelle+Willemse%2C+junior%2C+runs+during+a+varsity+cross+country+race.+Willemse+started+running+in+varsity+cross+country+races+her+freshman+year.+%E2%80%9CI+remember+driving+and+all+of+a+sudden+the+Homestead+Track+Team+runs+by.+It+was+so+different+for+me+to+see+that+because+in+South+Africa+we+don%E2%80%99t+have+teams%2C%22+Willemse+said.
Zanelle Willemse, junior, runs during a varsity cross country race. Willemse started running in varsity cross country races her freshman year. “I remember driving and all of a sudden the Homestead Track Team runs by. It was so different for me to see that because in South Africa we don’t have teams,

Zanelle Willemse, junior, runs during a varsity cross country race. Willemse started running in varsity cross country races her freshman year. “I remember driving and all of a sudden the Homestead Track Team runs by. It was so different for me to see that because in South Africa we don’t have teams," Willemse said.

Zanelle Willemse, junior, runs during a varsity cross country race. Willemse started running in varsity cross country races her freshman year. “I remember driving and all of a sudden the Homestead Track Team runs by. It was so different for me to see that because in South Africa we don’t have teams," Willemse said.

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Glory. Sweat. Pain. The sensations of a champion. As she sprints down the last 100 meter stretch, Zanelle Willemse, junior, can taste the victory. She has left all of her competitors in the grassy plain of the course.

Sweat drips down, blinding her. The pain is overwhelming. Mud-stained legs feel like they’re not moving. Her lungs are suffocating.

As she takes the last step over the finish line, she awakes in her bed gasping.

A burning, aching pain arises in her foot; two incomplete stress fractures, along with two stress reactions. Willemse is reminded of all the years of hard work that came crashing down in that moment.

Dreams of victory down the drain; years of work out the window. She recalls winning with a fond, yet bitter remembrance. “Running was an escape for me,” Willemse said. It “became my outlet because everyone knew everyone, so for me coming in and training really hard prior to freshman year allowed for me to get to know others.”

Willemse still trains as hard as she can. She swims and bikes as much as the girls varsity cross country team runs. “The team has been training hard, particularly our varsity girls,” James DeMarco, head coach, claimed.

Willemse hopes to return to the blinding sunlight of cross country meets. She cannot get the nostalgia of burning lungs and legs out of her head. She misses “going and warming up and running at the meets,” Willemse reminisced.

She will leave all of her competitors in the grassy plain of the course. As she sprints down the last 100 meter stretch towards recovery, Zanelle Willemse looks towards the future with hope.  She is ready to feel the sensations of a champion once again.

Glory.

Sweat.

Pain.

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The student news site of Homestead High School in Mequon, Wisconsin.
After the downfall