After she and her teammates finished runner-up a year ago at the state cross country meet, Jamie Holodak had one goal entering this season.
The Augusta Prep senior helped lead her team to its first state title since 2011. Holodak is The Augusta Chronicle Girls Cross Country Runner of the Year.
“Going into this season, I had the goal of winning a state championship,” she said. “Ever since starting varsity in eighth grade, that had always been a goal of mine. We had come super close the past four years.
“It was just amazing to finally win state my senior year. It was the icing on the cake.”
Holodak added to her dessert tray when she set the school record for fastest 5K cross country time. She set a personal record with a time of 18:59 in a September meet in Lexington, S.C., breaking the Augusta Prep record by one second.
In September, Holodak dusted the competition in a home meet against Columbia County public schools including Evans, Greenbrier, Grovetown and Lakeside. She posted a time of 20:09.57 to win the meet by 19 seconds ahead of her teammate, Molly Joseph. Augusta Prep handily won the team competition.
“When we realized we could compete with those schools,” Holodak said, “we realized we could compete against the schools in our region and state meets.”
One month later, Holodak finished 30 seconds behind Joseph in the region championship, placing second. The Lady Cavaliers easily won the Region 4-AAA Championship.
Holodak bounced back at the state meet in late October in Athens, Ga. On a hilly course, she placed fourth with a time of 21:11.62, finishing as the top Augusta Prep runner. Five Lady Cavaliers finished among the top 13 to clinch the title.
She said her team was prepared for the hills. Once a week during the season, Augusta Prep trained at the hilly Blanchard Woods course.
“Going into the state meet, we were a little more confident and ready for those hills than other teams,” she said. “I think that really helped me gain confidence, knowing that I was ready for it, prepared for it.”
Holodak’s athletic career is far from finished. She currently plays basketball for Augusta Prep. In the spring, she’ll compete in four running events for the girls track team. Last season, Holodak won region in three events and took home a state title in the 4x400 relay.
Holodak, who moved to Augusta when she was 2, said running has always been a big thing in her family. Her father, Tom, is the Augusta Prep athletic director, cross country and track coach. Her older sister, Jodie, ran for the Lady Cavaliers.
“Growing up, I watched all the athletes my dad has coached through the years. I’ve watched my sister run before me. I’ve definitely admired a lot of those runners,” she said. “And just having my dad as a coach has been a great experience.”
Holodak said she’s thinking about running cross country in college, possibly as a walk-on. She’s applied to Baylor, Clemson, North Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia - and she has a few others on her list.
“My goal is to run in college,” she said, adding she’s undecided on a major. “That comes second to academics.”