Prep girls cross country preview: Claire Huggett holding down her end of the ‘family business’

August 29, 2018

In the Huggett household in Marshall, running is a family business. And senior cross-country star Claire Huggett is carrying on the tradition.

Her father, Paul, was a runner during his days with the Cardinals, and was Claire’s older sister, Alanna.

And now Claire, fresh off of leading the Cardinals to a surprising third-place finish in the WIAA Division 3 state meet last fall, is determined to finish her career on a grand note.

She grudgingly admits big sister Alanna had to prod her a bit to get to this point.

“When we were younger, she (Alanna) would drag me out to run in the mornings and I would run, usually with much protest,” said Claire. “Alanna would always be at least a quarter-mile ahead of me, which was frustrating as a kid. But it made me the runner I am today.”

“I still motivate myself on runs (by) telling myself ‘Alanna’s way ahead of you, you need to go faster.’”

Veteran Marshall coach Jeff Looze, who has coached all the Huggetts, said that type of motivation has made Claire a great runner. She was the individual league champion as the Cardinals won the Capitol South Conference title and followed it with a strong state run.

“Last year was such a pleasant surprise,” Looze said. “The kids were such a level-headed group. It was one of the things that differentiated them from other teams that we had. They just took a one step at a time approach and it worked so well for them.

“And Claire is a level-headed, intelligent girl herself. She followed Alanna’s example.”

The Cardinals return all seven varsity runners from last year. Huggett (14th overall) will lead four returnees who were all in the top 50 of the 151-runner state D3 field last fall.

They include junior Gianna Dugan (25th), who had a major breakout season in 2017, sophomore Mya Andrews (46th) and senior Kyra Andrews (50th).

Other returnees include senior and returning team MVP Anahi Bonilla, and juniors Mady Frank and Haley Horne. Health will be important for Marshall as it finished last season with only 11 runners.

“And after a season like last year, we usually get a little kick (in numbers),” Looze said.

Co-captain Claire Huggett said team cohesion and hard summer work will carry the Cardinals far this fall.

“On our team we have many girls who have (leadership) qualities,” she said. “They help make my job easier, and someday they will make great captains themselves.”

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