When Polson cross country runner Bea Frissell heard about the meeting to try out for the cross country team at the end of her fifth grade year and she attended the meeting in sixth grade, she would never envision her entering the running world would culminate as a Class A MHSA state cross country champion.
Frissell, who captured the individual title and was one of the key components in catapulting the Lady Pirates to a third place finish at the 2017 cross country meet in Helena, was just eager to learn the technical nuisances of the sport.
“In middle school, I had no idea I would ever win state or do as well as I had in high school,” Frissell admitted. “I naturally wasn’t a bad runner but I also had to work for it, use that base and grow that base to become a better athlete and do the work that all runners have to do to get to that point.”
After that first meeting, Frissell just naturally began to cultivate herself into one of the top-tier runners in her class in high school.
“I can’t say running came natural when I heard the announcement in fifth grade over the intercom there would be a cross country meeting next year for sixth graders,” Frissell said. “When I came to the meeting, I almost didn’t go. A friend of mine came up to me and told me ‘I had to go to this.’ That is how I joined the cross country team.”
Fast forward to Frissell’s sophomore campaign. Frissell, in 2017, anchored one of the top teams in Class A but towards the end of the cross country campaign struggled with an injury building up tissue in her knee.
“I think the last time I had an injury at state I was able to pull it together despite the injury problems,” Frissell said. “It did make me pretty worried that I was going to get injured again this year. I was trying to be careful about that and by the time I got to state this year, it was nice. I wasn’t injured, I was in the top shape of my life and it was great knowing I didn’t have to go through the pain that had to go through last year.”
Determined to make a run at an individual crown and help her talented Lady Pirates team advance to state, Frissell participated in an intensive training program.
“I ran 350 summer miles and did as much training as I felt I could because I really wanted to improve and see how it would all play out,” Frissell said. “The fall seemed like it was pretty far away. It really sneaks up on you. I think trying to achieve the goal of being a state champion is a far out goal and a dream goal. I wanted to really observe my competition and set my goals after seeing the competition this year.”
Frissell pushed herself through the pain of trying to improve to achieve bigger goals for herself and her Polson teammates.
“Running is 90 percent mental and I think running really pushes you to the limit,” Frissell said. “It is really amazing and that is part of our training is to try to get physically and mentally stronger. You have to push yourself through the whole season and believe that you are stronger than your competition. It is a really hard thing to overcome and to have the self-confidence it is getting harder to do as a distance runner. Running is all about growing and getting that self-confidence for those big races because you are going to hurt but you still want to run through that pain.”
Frissell said she felt the team accolades are bigger than her individual ones because she said she would have not been able to achieve the level of success she had this season without the aid of her teammates.
“Running in the Polson meet was one of the major moments of my season,” Frissell said. “That is when the girls and boys team took first and that was one of those points that you realized how good we were as a team and that we could do it at state. I was able to take first in that meet. It was a tough race and you had to work really hard. The girl that was chasing after me was going back and forth. It was a tough race and just provided an example for the rest of the season that our team could push harder and do better than we ever though we could.”
One motivating factor for Frissell was the significant jump her teammate Naima Crowl made during the 2017 campaign. Last year, Crowl finished six places out of medalist in the MHSA Class A state race and this season she finished in the top 5.
Pirates, Lady Pirates coach Matt Seeley even stated Crowl, who was the No. 2 runner on the Lady Pirates, was so good that she would have been the top runner on several other teams.
“She made huge improvements this year and it was really amazing and super exciting to see a strong team this season,” Frissell said. “She improved a ton. I remember after practice telling my mom ‘Naima could beat me at some point’ because she was such a strong runner. She really pushed me a ton knowing that she was right there behind me and was a strong runner. It was a big motivator.”
Frissell said she felt her team finishing in the top 5 was a bigger deal than her individual accomplishment.
“It was a bigger deal to me to know how our team did and winning the state championship for the team,” Frissell said. “In cross country, the less points win and it’s all about the team. We are all really close and we get along really well. How we did as a team means a whole lot.”
Frissell said she credits her coaches with putting together the perfect plan to run at state.
“In cross country, the main thing is the course is different,” Frissell said. “You have to work really hard to come to a specific time and our coaching staff came up with a strategy that worked out really well for me in a lot of races. It is hard because I don’t start out super fast. I was the No. 15 girl in the group and worked my way up. That is always my favorite way of winning a race and basically, our strategy worked.”
Frissell, who has made herself one of the staples in the Polson running world as well as the MHSA, said she has aspirations to run in college.
After the victory at the Class A MHSA state cross country championships Frissell should have plenty of chances to run after high school and will even get another chance to capture yet another Class A state cross country title next season.
The junior isn’t looking too far ahead as she knows each cross country season is long and grueling.
However, Frissell admits that running in college would be something that she would like to persue if the opportunity presents itself.
“I would love to run in college and def one of the things manage to do it I would love to and scholarship for it and incredible and really cool opportunity and def one of the things I would love to do and I would love to run in college and but I always stress the importance of education and that is most important and I don’t have any specifics yet.”
Frissell still hopes to earn more hardware before the end of her college career.