Timeout Cross Country: Mindy Whidden has all the tools to be one of the state’s best
By John O’Malley Post-Tribune correspondent September 7, 2013 11:14PM
Hobart's Celena Guerrero (left) and teammate Mindy Whidden (right) come out of the woods during the Rudy Skorupa Cross Country Invite at Lake Central High School on Saturday, Aug. 31, 2013, in St. John, IN. | John Smierciak/For Sun-Times Media
Updated: October 10, 2013 6:23AM
With a nasty blister stretching across the bottom of her right foot, it’s amazing Hobart’s Mindy Whidden could even walk — let alone run.
My dad (Mitch) wasn’t even going to let me run that day,’’ said the Brickies senior, speaking about a performance that helped her notch her first career win at Lake Central’s inaugural Rudy Skorupa Invite.
Her performance at LC could eventually prove to be a watershed moment for the ultra-competitive, yet humble Whidden.
“I think it’s like a mental breakthrough for me,’’ she said. “It showed me I have even more in me than I thought I did. I usually don’t think I’m as strong in cross as I am in track, so I feel winning that race is really going to help (my confidence).’’
Whidden, who qualified for the state track meet the past two years in the 400-meter dash and in the 3,200 relay last year, has blossomed the past couple years while competing alongside talented teammate Celena Guerrero.
The pair went 1-2 at the Crown Point Invite to lead the Brickies to the team title, offering further proof the talented duo makes Hobart a force to be reckoned with.
“Our main goal is for us to qualify for state as a team,’’ said Whidden, who’s already running about a minute faster than she was last year at this time.
A year ago, Whidden ended up second at the Northwest Crossroads Conference meet as well as the Crown Point Sectional and Regional, before placing 20th at the New Prairie Semistate.
“I worked all summer to try and break 19 (minutes),’’ said Whidden, who has a personal-best 19:17 at last year’s NCC meet.
“I really want to get to around 18:30, if I can. I’m going to do whatever I can to get there. If I don’t quite reach it, (my time) will still be awesome.’’
Hobart coach Ty Artherhults loves the way Whidden has developed into one of the area’s top runners.
“A great work ethic is awesome to have, but there’s just something very special about Mindy,’’ he said. “She’s sort of like the perfect storm with her competitiveness, drive and work ethic. Even though she really doesn’t exude confidence, I think she’s becoming more and more confident. Once that confidence ignites fully, who knows what she’s capable of?
“I just know she’s going to have a phenomenal senior season. I think she hasn’t really tested her own limits yet, in that she’s not really even sure what she can accomplish.’’
Whidden not only accomplishes a great deal running, but in the classroom as well.
She carries a solid 3.6 GPA and plans to become a nurse or music producer.
“I write a lot of music and lead worship for my church (Hobart’s Barrington Ridge Baptist, where her dad is senior pastor),’’ said Whidden, who writes mostly acoustic-type things.
“I like all music’’ she said. “If I’m involved with music in the future, it will be music technology-type stuff.’’
Whidden is being recruited by a number of schools, including IUPUI, Bowling Green and St. Francis (Joliet, Ill.), an NAIA power.
She’s visited Olivet Nazarene and Lipscomb University (Nashville).
“I like both those schools,’’ she said. “Once I visit others, I might like them as well.’’
While lots of schools will seek her commitment, Whidden is committed to only one cause right now — her team.
“Celena and I will race each other, but in the end, we both just want to do well,’’ she said. “We race each other for competition every day. Every single workout we have, we both know we can’t fall back, because I know she’s there, and she knows I’m there.
“At times I think: ‘Wow. We can really use this to our advantage.’ ’’