Wright has big season planned after winning award

By 
Justin Hotop

The awards continue to roll in for Perryville’s Courtney Wright. The senior-to-be secured the Female Cross Country Runner of the Year at the Semoball awards on Saturday.
“Courtney is a dedicated runner and a great team leader,” Perryville cross-country coach Shadrick Shafer said. “She has earned every ounce of success she has had.”
The event is normally held at the River Campus at Southeast Missouri State each year, but was held virtually online due to COVID-19.
Wright is the third female athlete from Perryville High School to win a category in the seven-year history of the event. (Emma Nelson-2016, Dru Hemmann-2017)
Wright set a Perryville girls’ cross country school record with a time of 19:30 at the Class 3 cross country state meet last November, a record that stood for 22 years. Wright’s time was good enough for 15th overall in the state race. Wright finished in the top 10 of every race she ran last season, including finishing first or second in multiple events.
Wright was one of eight local athletes to be nominated for a category in either the fall or winter sports this year.
No spring season athletes were nominated for individual categories because the spring season was canceled across the state because of the pandemic.
Perrville boy soccer players Dayton Strattman and Austin Welk were beaten out by Jackson’s Chalon Domian. Saxony Lutheran senior Emma Brune was bested by Poplar Bluff’s Kiley Bess in the girls basketball category.
Notre Dame’s Blake Morris claimed the boys cross-country athlete award over nominees like St. Vincent’s Jack Baer.
Saxony Lutheran swimmers Bayley Thompson and Savannah Spencer were left without any hardware as Paige Bradley of Poplar Bluff won the award. Perryville’s Ann-Marie Simpson lost out to Notre Dame’s Riley Burger for the softball player of the year.
Off the back of the award and success from last season, Shafer believes Wright is primed for an even bigger senior year.
“Her goals for this year is to break the top-5 in the state meet,” Shafer said. “Time-wise, she wants to drop about one minute off her time from last year, which would put her at about the 18-and-a-half minute mark. We have been gently increasing her mileage to help her reach that goal.”
This past spring Wright had planned to participate in track and field to help her with top end speed for cross country.
But the spring season was canceled because of the pandemic, so Wright has taken a different, and measures approach for the fall.
“When the spring season disintegrated, we went with increasing her strength and that mileage. We have taken that full body approach.”
While Wright has been improving and preparing herself for the cross country season, she has also developed into a leadership role with the younger female athletes on the team.
“Like every season we are looking for that continued growth,” Shafer said. “Many of these athletes are entering their fourth year and beyond in the cross country program, with myself and coach Tim Steffens at the middle school level, so they are looking to big things as a team this year, whether that be individuals qualifying for state or even the girls team qualifying as an entire team out of districts. They have been looking at what Courtney has been able to accomplish and hoping to do that themselves. “

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