The ability of an athlete to, potentially, reach their full potential is based on progression through each stage of their career.
Platteview’s Carrie Simonson embodies that notion. Her ability to take the next step in each of her four seasons on the softball diamond and on the track is the definition of progression as an athlete.
“She always had the mental drive part and was gifted athletically, but I feel like every year she knew what was her thing and what she was good at,” Platteview track and field coach Christina Elder said. “She progressed so much in softball and then on the track side, I thought she knew she was going to have that mental edge to be able to (accomplish what she did).
“She is mentally one of the strongest athletes I’ve coached and I think that’s been huge for her.”
Simonson’s ability to increase her performance, year after year, led to a dominant senior season in both sports to earn her ITG Girl’s Athlete of the Year.
“All the hard work has finally paid off and I’ve finished stronger than I could’ve wished for,” Simonson said. “I feel like both of my teams kind’ve relied on me a lot and encouraged me to do as much as I can for my team. My team was a big reason why I wanted to get better every day.”
Last fall, the center fielder entered her last season on the softball diamond. After hitting .321 her freshman season on varsity and then over .400 her sophomore and junior campaigns, the senior hit for a .526 average. Her average put her 19th overall in the state and second in Class B.
She added 26 runs, 19 RBI, six doubles, three triples and a homer in 80 plate appearances from the leadoff spot in the lineup. She added 23 stolen bases for second best in Class B.
Making contact was her strength. She never walked her senior season while only striking out five times. Furthermore, in 27 games, she only finished hitless in a game four times. She set career highs in average, RBI, doubles, triples, strikeouts, on-base percentage and slugging percentage last season. Her performance earned her a spot on the 2018 All-ITG Softball team.
She led the Trojans in average, slugging percentage, runs, hits, doubles and triples.
“I played select softball every summer which helped a lot. We were state champions last summer and we made it to the regionals in Arkansas,” Simonson said. “We practiced every day and played every weekend, so that helped me develop along the way.”
The season didn’t finish the way Simonson had hoped. The Trojans finished with a 10-21 record but fielded a young squad. She was one of five seniors on the team.
“It was kind’ve difficult because I was so used to summer ball and being so competitive,” Simonson said. “I tried my best and wanted to be there for my team to help all the younger girls out since I was a senior and leader.”
Simonson then spent her winter getting ready for track and field season in the spring. She trained at Loyalty Training LLC in Elkhorn working on agility and her form. But before the winter came, Simonson committed to the University of Nebraska at Omaha for track and field at the end of September. She plans on running the same events she did in high school.
“It was really nice. My name got out there (on social media),” Simonson said. “But I have to own up to it now and prove myself to them.”
Earning a scholarship to compete for a Division-I college and knowing track was her future, Simonson adopted a new mindset heading into the fall.
“I think it all came together with that. The cool thing was she was future focused but she was very good at focusing on what she needed to focus on. So being able to focus on being at Platteview and doing her best while she’s here,” Elder said. “I think it’s easier for high school athletes to be (focused on college), but she was so good at being a teammate here and worrying about the here and now.”
She qualified for the state meet her first three years on varsity. Her first two years finished without getting out of the prelims in the 100 and 200-meter dash, while finishing 20th and 15th, respectively, in the long jump. Her sophomore season, she was part of the 4x100 relay that finished 13th.
She came onto the scene her junior season where she finished third in the 100, second in the 200, fifth in the long jump and sixth in the 4x100 relay that led to her being noticed by the Mavericks. The Trojans finished in third place as a team in the meet.
Then her senior season she dominated competition throughout the regular season. She won first place in the 100-meter dash, 200-meter dash and the 4x100 relay in every meet. She finished first in the long jump in nine of 11 meets.
“I think it was one of those things where she and I just got used to it. Like Carrie was just expected to win. There was a lot of times I had to sit back and realize that it’s incredible,” Elder said. “It’s a once in a generation situation and it was incredible to watch and I told her to soak it all in because when you get used to it, you can so easily take it for granted as it becomes the norm.”
She entered the state championships with high expectations in her last go around and didn’t disappoint. She finished in second place in the 100, 200 and the long jump. Lexington’s Madison Smith was the only person who could hold Simonson back, beating Simonson for first place in all three events.
The senior was able to get the taste of a state championship before her Trojan career wrapped up. After three seasons together, Simonson, along with Anna Koehler, Abby Husing and Jacque McCullough, finished first in the 4x100 relay.
“It felt so good. Just even getting the school record (in the 4x100) felt great too,” Simonson said. “I still think about it and think, Wow we did that. It’s crazy but we deserved it. We worked so hard these last three years we’ve been together.”
She wrapped up her career by helping the Trojans finish in second place as a team for the best finish in Platteview history while setting school records for the 100, 200, long jump and the 4x100 relay.
“We wanted that team championship so bad but runner-up is just as good,” Simonson said. “We got our most points ever and we were only two points away (from winning). Everyone wants a championship but runner-up is fine.”
The accolades came again two days later. Loyalty Training LLC named her as one of its 2018-19 Loyalty Athletes of the Year.
“A lot of their athletes go year round and I’m only there in the winter so it was surprising how I was still elected for that,” Simonson said.
She also holds three records there for the 10-yard dash, the three cone and pro agility. She was just inches off from breaking the record for the broad jump.
And to think Simonson didn’t have much interest in track entering high school until Elder made it a point to ask.
“They almost didn’t go out. So going from that to seeing her develop into a collegiate athlete has been such a cool journey to watch,” Elder said. “She was debating whether to go out or not and now it’s her love and passion.”
It’s just the beginning for Simonson, who will be moving from the rural area of Springfield to the city of Omaha to start her next chapter, and she understands she’ll have to work her way back up to the top.
“I’m really excited but, at the same time, I’m nervous,” Simonson said. “There’s going to be much faster girls and my competition is only going to get higher and higher.
“But I’m excited.”