Star Spotlight: Amelia Arrieta

In her first year running on the cross country team, Ameila Arrieta has already made STA history by breaking the school record.


by Lauren Brackney, Design Editor

What sports have you done at STA throughout your whole high school experience?

I played basketball freshman and sophomore year, but I was cut junior year, so then I went out for track and field and they said I should probably try out for cross country so then I did that senior year.

What made you decide to join cross country?

I think really Lilly Hupke and Sydney Swan. They were like the biggest motivators to push me to do cross country, and some of the other seniors too from last year, Meredith O’Donnell and Katie Riffle, were like ‘Oh you should definitely go out, you’d be great.’

What was track like?

It was fun but I definitely like the family aspect of cross country more. It just makes it more fun and makes the workouts easier even though they can be harder.

What kind of events did you do on track?

In track I started out with the sprinters actually. At the first meet I ran the 800 meter and the 4 by 800 and then I went up to the mile and then at state I ran the mile and the 4 by 800.

What was going through your head when you were going from JV to varsity?

I wasn’t expecting to make varsity. Boland sent out the entries on a Thursday night and we were racing that Saturday morning and I looked through it at first, not seeing my name and I was like ‘Man, I didn’t make it’ but then I looked through it again and I was like, ‘Wait, my name’s right there. I’m racing in the 800’ and it just went from there.

What was your first cross country meet like?

Well, we had the two mile and I was, as I say, ‘Cool as a cucumber’ because I was like ‘This doesn’t really matter, it’s just two miles.’ And then for the first 5k, it was the Tim Nixon meet, and it was raining so there was even less pressure and Coach Moran was like, ‘Oh no one is going to run that fast anyways’ so I went out there and I was like, ‘Okay I’ll just run and see what happens.’ 

What are some of your accomplishments with cross country this year?

I broke the school record. I guess twice. I broke the original record and then in this last race I didn’t beat my record, but I broke the original record [the former STA record for a 5k race was held by Ann Campbell with a time of 18:14 set in 2014].

What did it feel like when you broke the record?

I honestly didn’t believe it. I crossed that finish line and I was almost passing out. I was leaning on a table and then Gracie Jacobs crossed the finish line and I fell on the floor next to her. I had to go back to the medical tent because they said I was dehydrated and that was why my head hurt so much, but [my teammates] said I broke 18 minutes and I was like ‘oh wow.’ I think I’ve made a lot of friends this way. This is the first way I have felt really happy in a long time. Like I didn’t feel this happy running track.

[According to MileSplit, after the Gans Creek Invitational Meet Sept. 25, “Amelia Arrieta ran the fastest time in Missouri since 2015.”]

Senior Amelia Arrieta leads the varsity pack during a 400 meter repeat workout Oct. 7. Out of the 12 members on the post-season cross country team, seven will run at the district, sectional and eventually state meets. photo by Lauren Brackney

What makes you happy while running cross country?

The people, really. There’s so many amazing people on this team it’s unbelievable. Going to summer running helped out so much. I couldn’t have done it without [my teammates]. They’ve taught me so much and they still teach me so much.

How has cross country changed your experience at STA? How has it changed you?

It has changed my legs, they are sore constantly. Mentally, this is the happiest I’ve been and I think it’s just that support system, you feel like you have more people to rely on and people you can support that will support you at the same time.

Do you see yourself having a future in running or do you have any goals?

A few college coaches have reached out to me already, so I am thinking of running in college, especially since it will help me financially. I think it would be nice since I just started cross country. I would like to continue that a little bit longer.

Do you have any goals in mind for the rest of your high school career?

Have fun and win state.

Do you feel like you have more to give?

I feel like each week I am giving it my best and I am just trying to get faster.

Do you have any pre-meet rituals or superstitions?

Oh, don’t get me started; it starts weeks in advance. So, a few days before, I start drinking my Nuun and put it in my water. I started drinking Pedialyte as recommended by Swan. I love this one, Mixed Berry. I do like to have salmon before and I remember when we went to Gans Creek we got salmon at the restaurant there and it was so good. But usually we have pasta parties and it’s a good substitute. The morning-of I eat a Kind energy bar and a banana. I also write a Bible verse on my hand; it’s from Isaiah chapter 40 verse 31. It says something like ‘They that hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on eagles wings, they will run and not grow weary, walk and not grow faint.’

What does the quote mean to you?

Obviously the ‘run and not grow weary’ part stands out to me, but it’s like you can’t feel tired. You’re not going to feel tired, you won’t feel tired. And I tell myself that before I race, that’s my favorite thing to tell myself like, ‘She’s gassed, she’s gassed you’re not tired, she’s tired.’ I tell my teammates that too like, ‘you’re not tired she’s tired. You’re not tired.’

What was it like winning Hy-Vee athlete of the week?

I remember the night [Coach] Moran emailed me, I couldn’t sleep. I was wondering what it would be like and how I was making the whole team stay after school on Thursday, which was supposed to be our day off. I’m glad that my team was there to support me; I really appreciate them. 

Coach Karen Moran hands senior Amelia Arrieta a plaque for Hy-Vee’s Athlete of the week Sept. 29 as the cross country team cheers for her accomplishment. The ceremony was filmed along with an interview for Channel 41 News.

What do you run for? What motivates you?

My team. A landmark moment for me was at the Gans Creek Meet. They had these huge signs at every mile mark that showed the individual stance and then the team stance. I remember at the 4k mark it showed that St. Teresa’s was up by two points and I was in the lead. The team behind us, Rock Bridge, their number one girl was behind me, or at least I thought. I thought I really had to kick then so I could win for our team because if I came in second, then she would get the points and we would get second. I just kept thinking, ‘I’ve got to do this for my team.’

What do you think makes the cross country team so unique?

I think that it’s because there are so many different people all running the same race and we all kind of get to struggle together. Maddie Weiford said “trauma really bonds people.” The trauma is running.

What’s your favorite cross country memory?

Every Friday we dress up in theme and one time I dressed up as Coach Moran. I brought a clipboard, a visor, my bright shorts — everything. Then Maddie took a picture of us standing side by side and we posed in the same position. It was hilarious.

How do you think you’ve grown as a runner?

I’m more open to trying new things. Like I said, I never even thought about running. When I was a freshman I said ‘no, they’re crazy, [cross country] is a cult.’ But now I love it, I wish I had done it freshman year.

Do you feel pressure as a top runner? How do you deal with stress?

I try to keep myself calm. I like listening to music especially on the day of the meet, like the morning of, driving to the meet. Once I get with my teammates, they calm me down.

Do you have a go to song?

“It’s not right for you” [by The Script]. Thinking about it from a running perspective, if you even have to think about it, it’s not right for you.

What do you want the school to know?

Clear eyes, full heart, can’t lose. It is this quote from a few years ago, they played this song for me and the mantra really stuck with me.