South Forsyth senior Emma Maisel has played “just about every sport in the book,” she says. Hyperbole aside, she’s participated in softball, volleyball, basketball and lacrosse, but at the start of her high school career she fell in love with what many might see as the simplest sport of them all—running.
No balls. No base pads. No hash marks. Just the will to run, and the terrain, her stadium.
Four years later, Maisel is hitting her stride. Head coach Vann Munn thinks she has worked harder and progressed more than anyone else on the team, and now is a strong complement to the likes of Savannah Carnahan, Kaylee Dupont and Millicent Bergey and others who have catapulted South to the top of the Class AAAAAA rankings.
GaMilesplit.com ranks South second in its class, only behind region rival Northview.
With a team-first approach in mind, the Titans are the only priority for Maisel with the Region 6-AAAAAA meet coming up this Saturday.
“The team has really come along the past couple of meets,” Maisel said. “We’ve been getting close to our rival, Northview. We’re the underdogs, they’re number one, but I really do believe we have a shot at beating them.”
Maisel said the coaches have broken it down to the specific times and runners South needs to beat to claim a region title over the top-ranked team in the state. Maisel is coming in hot. After an up-and-down start to the year, she has finished 5,000 meters in times of 19:51.40, 19:29.00, and 19:36, respectively, in her last three meets. The last two times happened the past two weekends at the Alexander Invitational and the Nike Fleet Feet Coach Wood Invitational.
When asked what she has done to rise to the top, Maisel highlighted that her mental focus has been just as important as her physical attributes.
“I’m a firm believer that hard work can beat talent when talent doesn’t work hard. I’ve proven that by working on weekends, doing extra, putting in time and effort and outracing people who have more natural talent than me,” Maisel said. “To be a runner you have to be dedicated, love it, be willing to sacrifice that time you could be using to socialize with friends.”
She wakes up hours earlier than her peers, goes to bed early, eats a strict diet that prevents her from indulging in sweets and rarely has the opportunity to go to football games on Friday nights.
Her focus comes from her competitive nature.
“I’ve always considered myself to be a very competitive person,” Maisel said. “In the classroom, on a track, cross country, and every sport I’ve played I’ve been a competitor. That plays into cross country. Just trying to pass a girl in the end, but it’s also a team thing. If I’m on that second mile and tired, it’s not wanting to let my teammates down that drives me to keep pushing.”
Though, through all the nuances of running, Maisel admits that the greatest part of the sport she loves is that it offers a sense of balance and relief from her day-to-day stressors that come with being a student athlete.
“Nothing comes close to comparing to running for me,” Maisel said. “I love it because I don’t stress about it. It actually relieves stress.”
After this weekend’s region meet, the focus will turn to next week’s state meet. Maisel hopes to make one final splash to end her career at South.
“We’ve been preparing since June for the next few weeks. We’ve been working so hard, ever since the school year started. Coach has us practicing non-stop,” Maisel said. “We have this big task of beating Northview in our heads. Coaches have broken it down to who needs to beat who, and with what time.”
However, Maisel is looking forward to one thing after he career concludes.
“I can’t wait to have some ice cream, or we’ll go to IHOP as a team after the season,” Maisel said. “It’s been killing me not to have ice cream.”