Scheels Athlete of the Week: Cross Country Helps Clear Creek Amana's Stratton Prep for Big Senior Season

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Photo by Rob Howe

Ryan Murken

Your Prep Sports

TIFFIN – In her final prep season Karsyn Stratton wants to help the Clear Creek Amana girls basketball team do things it has never done before.

In order to do that Stratton herself did something she had never tried.

A two-year varsity volleyball player Stratton went out for cross country for the first time this fall in an effort to improve her stamina and overall physical fitness level for her senior basketball season.

“I used to think that the best shape of my life was basketball shape but I would still get tired and then I did cross country and that was a different beast,” Stratton explained. It definitely put me in the best shape I have ever been in, I feel great and I’m so glad I did it.”

Stratton already ranks among the best to ever wear a Clear Creek Amana uniform.

She eclipsed the 1,000-point mark last season as a junior, has lead the Clippers in scoring three consecutive seasons and ranked in the top three in Class 4A in scoring the past two seasons.

Still, Stratton was looking for ways to get better.

So after a summer of working in the gym on things lots of basketball players do like ball handling and shooting Stratton did something few players do.

She ditched her basketball shoes for some running shoes and joined the cross country team.

“It was one of the hardest things I have ever done,” Stratton said. “It pushed me mentally and physically. Cross country pushed me in ways I never thought I could be pushed.”

The original though for Stratton was the increased stamina gained from the high mileage of a cross country season would allow her to play more minutes.

Early in her senior season that plan has already shown to be a success.

“You can see how good of shape she is in at practice,” Clear Creek Amana coach PJ Sweeney said. “I played her 30 minutes (against Solon) but she could have kept going. I didn’t see any fatigue.”

An even bigger benefit for Stratton from cross country season has been something she didn’t initially consider – the mental training.

“It helped me so much mentally, cross country was so hard, I wanted to cry sometimes, I wanted to quit but it taught me I could keep pushing through everything,” Stratton said. “Your body can do a lot more than you think it can, a lot of it is mental. That has really carried over to other things and I’m glad I did it.”

Stratton looked like a new player in the Clippers season opener on Tuesday.

The 5-foot-8 point guard scored a game-high 31 points and grabbed 13 rebounds in a 58-43 win over Solon.

“She is such a competitor and she works tremendously hard,” Sweeney said. “She always feel very confident. She’s a confident kid and she can go to her right hand, left hand, finish through contact and she hit her free throws. Each year she keeps getting better and better and better.”

Clear Creek Amana won 13 games during Stratton’s freshman season before posting consecutive 11-win campaigns the past two seasons.

The Clippers were 11-9 a year ago.

Stratton wants nothing more than to help Clear Creek Amana eclipse those win totals this season.

“We have super high expectations this year and I honestly think we have all the pieces we need,” Stratton said. “I trust every single girl out there and we feed off each other. We have outstanding team chemistry so I am excited to see what we can do.”

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