By Andy Krutsinger, Mt. Pleasant News
Abby Ryon is a junior at Mt. Pleasant High School and a member of the girls? cross-country team.
Ryon quickly rose to the top of the pack on the girls? side, earning back-to-back state meet appearances in her freshman and sophomore year and finished second at the conference meet last season.
Ryon met with The News on Wednesday after practice. The questions are in bold with her answers following.
Did you grow up here in Mt. Pleasant? No, I did not. I originally lived in Iowa City, and then I had preschool in Mason City. Then my dad moved here after residency, so I started here in kindergarten.
How long have you been running competitively? I ran my first 5K in fourth grade, so you could say I?ve been running for a while. I really started training in seventh-grade cross-country season. That?s when I really rediscovered running and was like, ?Yeah, I really like this!?
What gets you into running a 5K that young? My dad has ran marathons since he was in college. So I?ve always grown up where we?d go on vacation for his marathons. Then he started doing Iron Mans, where you swim, bike and run a lot. So it?s always just kind of been something that we do. Something that my dad and I have a connection with. It?s a special bond that we have.
Do you have any interest in doing an event one day that has a little swimming and stuff like that? Yeah, definitely! I do some swimming over the summer as some extra training. Dad and I go out and swim.
Have you made plans for after high school yet? Not really. I know I want to run in college, and I know that I want to study something in the sciences. But other than that, not too specific!
Let?s talk business first. How is the team looking this year? I?m really excited. We have a lot of freshman and just new runners who are starting to feel out the sport and understand what it?s like. I?m really excited about the team atmosphere. We?re really doing great, jelling as a team, communicating with each other, and just enjoying each other?s company when we?re at practice.
Favorite course to run at? I love Pella. Everybody says they hate Pella because it?s really hilly, but I?ve always run fast times there. The competition is great, and it?s always a great place to run.
So is there anything about a course that you either look forward to or it just kind of ruins it for you? Usually if it?s super hilly, kind of like Washington?s course?that one is all hills and it?s not very fun. It?s got to have a good amount of shade (and) a good amount of hills to make it challenging, so it?s not just completely flat. That?s why I really like Pella. It?s a nice combination of all of those.
Do you have any superstitions? I do! I always have to wear my hair in a French braid on race day. It?s just something I do. It makes me feel fast.
How about any nicknames? Well, I just really go by Abby. ?Abs? for short. Nothing too special.
You?ve had about a year now of the boys running with the girls, can you tell me some positives or negatives about that? I really enjoy it. It?s good to have guys and girls running together so you always have somebody who?s within your time, or runs about the same pace as you. It?s really nice to go out and run with Cody (Mertens) or Dalton (Moyle), and some of the faster guys, and really challenge myself. And then the negatives?they?re boys! (Laughing). They talk about gross things sometimes, but that?s nothing I?m not used to!
And now you?ve got your brother (Luke) on the team this year. Does that add a fun dynamic to it? I?m really excited. I?m really proud of him because he hasn?t run cross since middle school, so he didn?t run it last year. But I?ve really been wanting him to, because as I said, it?s a great team atmosphere. Everyone enjoys each other?s company, and they really lift you up?and he might not tell you this, but I think he likes it.
Who?s your seat buddy on the long bus rides? Definitely Kendall Dascher. We?ve run together since middle school cross. She?s got blonde curly hair like me (and) we?re always asked if we?re twins. It?s like, ?No, we?re not, but we?d really like to be!?
Which teammate is the most competitive? That?s a tough one. Probably Kendall. She gets really in to it. She gets really fired up about things, which makes her a great competitor! She doesn?t easily let somebody pass her.
Which teammate would make the best standup comedian? Probably M.J. (Maggie Jennings). She just says the funniest things sometimes, and she doesn?t even know it! She just says it and we all laugh and she?s like, ?Wait, what did I say?? She?s just the funny one.
If you could spend the day with one celebrity, who would you choose? Probably Shalane Flanagan. She?s a marathon runner. She recently won the New York City marathon, first American woman to do it in a long time. And she recently had a cook book that I love.
Are you into cooking? Yes, I love cooking. Healthy foods, sweet potatoes, black beans. Any combinations of just healthy but just really good tasting food.
Do you have a specialty? I love baking cupcakes. A little different than cooking, but it?s just a nice stress reliever for me to follow a recipe and frost it a particular way. It?s my distresser.
What if you could pick a superpower to have for the rest of your life? I would definitely be invisible. You could sneak up on people and do little jokes on them. You can listen to their conversations.
Big time eaves dropping. Yeah, big time! (Laughing)
Out of all your time here at Mt. Pleasant, who has been your favorite teacher? Probably Mrs. Lutovsky. She teaches chemistry at the high school. I took regular chemistry last year with my friend Aurora. It?s self-paced so some of the kids don?t enjoy it, but Aurora and I really liked it because we could work at a faster pace and we got the course done in a semester. Mrs. Lutovsky was really great with working with us, and talking us through some things, but then also letting us go and do our own thing.
Panther Profile is a series of interviews with Mt. Pleasant athletes currently in season. This season will focus on members of the cross-country, football and volleyball teams.