She woke up around 5:30, ate a small breakfast and got ready to catch the school bus leaving for Newville at 7:15. When she arrived, she warmed up, tried to calm her mind and emotions, surveyed the course and went to the starting line.
When the gun went off, she went out with the lead pack and stayed there, went hard through the wooded area and up the hill, took care coming down the muddy slope and pushed through to the finish line. She received her medal early, celebrated with her teammates and then drove 75 minutes to Lancaster.
She got to the field 30 minutes before game time, stretched and warmed up with her other teammates, went out, played hard, followed her assignments, looked for opportunities and scored her team’s only goal, in the second quarter.
Saturday, October 30, 2021 was a busy day, even by Braetan Peters’ crazy standards. But perhaps no day epitomized Peters’ fall sports season better than that day.
“It was a busy day,” said Peters. “But it’s something I’ve been doing since the seventh grade because I love both. It’s about finding a balance, but we have found a plan to do both. I’ve been able to get my workouts with cross country in before school, then stretch with my cross country teammates after school and then go to field hockey practice. It’s just trying to be a part of the team aspect in both sports.
“I’m a runner who plays field hockey,” continued Peters. “Running is definitely my main sport and my to priority, When I have both, I’m always going to choose running.”
Oh, by the way, October 30th was also a triumphant day for Peters. At the District Three Class A Cross Country Championships at Big Spring, the Annville-Cleona senior repeated as the girls’ individual champion while leading the Little Dutchmen to the girls’ team title.
At the time, the second-quarter goal Peters scored in Annville-Cleona’s 2-1 overtime loss to Lancaster Mennonite, in the District Three Class A quarterfinal round, tied the game at one. She currently stands third on the A-C field hockey team in goal scoring.
“I was very grateful to win again at districts,” said Peters. “As a team, we were so excited because that had never happened before. I was hoping for a little better time, but it was rainy and there were a lit bit of slippery conditions. It was a struggle to PR (personal record) that day. It’s a lot better to have someone in front of you, but I tried to do the best I could on my own.
“If you want something to happen, you have to work for it,” Peters added. “There are things that are going on that people don’t see, like eating habits and lifting. I see those as big contributors to my running. You can’t forget about the little things. They make a difference. It all adds up.”
Peters has been juggling the fall sports of cross country and field hockey at Annville-Cleona for the better part of six years now. Not only does it require a certain amount of athletic ability and talent, it also takes a great deal of hard work, some discipline, versatility and flexibility and just a hint of prioritization.
It also requires the understanding and cooperation of coaches at a small school that needs all the student-athletes it can get. This season, Peters missed about five A-C field hockey games or scrimmages due to cross country conflicts.
“With field hockey, the running is short sprints, but you’re not getting the long conditioning aspect needed for cross country,” said Peters. “It works different muscle groups. It’s just different. But it’s good to have a combination of both.
“There’s definitely a different team aspect with field hockey, because you need to communicate on the field and you need to work together to accomplish the same goal,” added Peters. “With cross country, it’s a little more individualized, a little more personal.”
“She is the best communicator,” said Annville-Cleona field hockey head coach Carrie Gingrich, of Peters. “The past two years have worked out great. She’s been awesome dealing with it since her freshman year. We’ve had other athletes play two sports and it hasn’t worked out as well. She just loves both sports so much.”
At one point, Peters was also an accomplished figure skater, a 12-year pursuit she gave up about two years ago. Last spring, as a distance runner on the Annville-Cleona track and field squad, Peters finished fourth at the District Three Class AA championships in the 1600-meter run and ran third in the 3200-meter run to qualify for the state meet.
“My family is made up of a bunch of athletes,” said Peters. “My mom was a runner and she used to take me to fun runs. I got started playing field hockey in kindergarten. Growing up, I loved both and knew I wanted to continue both. Starting in the seventh grade, it was a bit of a difficult thing, but we figured it out.
“Then I just started doing well in cross country and I started thinking about what I wanted to do,” Peters added. “In the tenth grade, I went to a cross country camp at Shippensburg. That’s when I knew I wanted to be a part of it in college. It’s so exciting when there are people who want to be there because they want to be part of running. Running with those people made me want to continue it.”
After competing at the PIAA Cross Country Championships in Hershey, Peters has the spring track and field season to look forward to. Then, her college search will intensify.
“I think it (college decision) will come down to where I fit in best with cross country and track, with my times, and where I fit in best socially,” said Peters, who aspires to become a physician’s assistant. “Actually, I think I like track better. It’s more consistent, so your times are more true. Cross country fluctuates with the course. But I love both for different reasons.
“It (not playing field hockey) will be something to adjust to because it’s been such a part of my life for so long,” concluded Peters. “But I’m really excited to see what happens when I dedicate myself to running. I want to see how far I can go when I put all my energy into running.”