Student-Athlete Spotlight

Student-Athlete Spotlight: Catalina Foothills Cross Country Standout Lauren Jorgensen is running a series of brief stories about Southern Arizona high school senior student-athletes entering this school year. The series, first-person accounts from the student-athletes, continues with a profile on Catalina Foothills High School cross country runner Lauren Jorgensen.

Lauren Jorgensen

School: Catalina Foothills

Honors/Background: All-Southern Arizona selection in 2019. Jorgensen took fourth place last year in the D2 state championships. She is the top returning girls runner from Southern Arizona.

Before I became a runner I was actually on a year-around club swim team for 10 years but I never had a passion for it. When I was in seventh grade, I joined the cross country and track and field team at Pusch Ridge Christian Academy and discovered that I loved running.

My dad is in the Air Force and was deployed and I remember he couldn’t believe I wanted to stop swimming to run. He had to watch my first cross country season through FaceTime while he was in Afghanistan.

My first track meet I remember racing against Grace Driskill, who was in eighth grade at the time and she ran close to a 5:30 mile and I took second running in the 5:40’s.

We had to move to Florida shortly after that because my dad got orders. Sadly, I had to give up running for a year and join a club swim team again because the middle schools in Florida where we lived didn’t have organized sports. I remember my freshman year at Gulf Breeze High School I finally was able to go back to running cross country.

Catalina Foothills’ standout runner Lauren Jorgenson

I also went out for the high school swim team, which I’m pretty sure I wasn’t allowed to do (competing in two sports at the same time in the fall), but the school didn’t seem to care.

Ironically, I qualified for state in swimming and then had to drive four hours that night from South Florida to Central Florida to race in my Regional Cross Country race the next morning. I missed qualifying for state by one place but qualified my sophomore year in Florida in both cross country and track.

We moved back to Tucson the summer before my junior year and I started training with the Catalina Foothills cross country team. I remember feeling the pressure being the “new” girl again and I had heard really good things about coach Steve Carney at Foothills.

I was worried about progressing with my times and ability since I set some good PRs in Florida my sophomore year. It turned out to be amazing. The whole cross country team accepted me and I even got to reunite with an old friend (now my teammate) Tenley Hughes that I first met at Pusch Ridge who transferred to Foothills as well.

The running culture is very good here. The focus is right, coaches care about our well being, and we train hard but we don’t over train.

Lauren Jorgensen

I feel like our team flew under the radar that year and then finished a strong second to Flagstaff High at State. The track season started off really good as well for me. I ran PRs at the only two meets we got to compete at in both the 1600 (5:10) and 3200 (11:07).

This summer under COVID-19, the conditions have had its challenges, but hasn’t stopped my teammates and I from training. I’ve had a bit of a struggle with some Plantar fasciitis in my left foot this summer, but have worked hard through some physical therapy to get over it as fast as possible.

Honestly, our girls team is sooo strong this year. We had a lot of girls return who are training hard and we have some really good middle schoolers move up. I think we all know we have a real shot for a state championship if we all stay healthy and the state allows for the competition.

It would be a shame if we don’t get the chance to take down Flag High, the returning champion, for the state championship.

As far as plans and goals for my future, I definitely want to compete at the next level, preferably Division I. I go back and forth on what I want to study but I’m leaning towards studying nutrition or public health for a later pursuit in occupational therapy.

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