Salute to Seniors: Annika Bissinger of St. Joseph's

Name: Annika Bissinger
High school: St. Joseph's
Event PRs: 5K- 18:31; 800- 2:18; 1600- 5:12; 400- 1:00
Hobbies: Going out with friends, soccer, watching Instagram videos of dogs

What was your most memorable race/competition?

Cross country state my sophomore year. We had been the underdogs the entire year, and no one was expecting us to pull out a win (not even us!!). The entire team ran fantastically, and we sat at the finish line after the race counting up points and realized that we could have just, somehow, won. The joy and excitement that rushed throughout the team and our fans when "St. Joseph's" was announced as the team state champion was something I will never, ever be able to forget. 

Out of all your high school accomplishments, which stands out the most?

Probably the 1600 at state my sophomore year. Since seventh grade, I have always had a love-hate relationship with the 1600, and never was able to run it with full confidence. It was always the race that made me the most nervous, and I had not been running it as well as I had wanted to in the meets leading up to state. When I finally won it at state, not only was I proud of the way I performed, but I was reassured of the work I had put in and my efforts throughout the year. That race gave me more confidence in myself.   

If you could do it all over again, what would you change about your athletic career in high school? 

I would probably spend more time on the little details, such as nutrition, hydration, and sleep. There were many times when I was so caught up in school or social events or even running itself that I overlooked the little things, which sometimes caught up to me. 

What were the most difficult obstacles you had to overcome?

My high school years, particularly junior and senior year, were plagued by health issues, so the physical aspect of those issues was challenging. The most difficult part, however, was keeping my head up after every rough practice and race, which I would not have been able to do without my parents, my sisters, my coaches, and my teammates. 

What will you miss the most?

Definitely my team. Running is not only a physically tough sport, but it also is mentally tasking. My team and my coaches reassured me of myself and my love for the sport daily while keeping me light-hearted and not too serious. I will miss the environment of the region I competed in, as I feel the relationship between the 2A schools in the Greenville area is unmatched, and I am lucky enough to call many of my competitors friends.  

Do you have any advice for younger athletes?

Keep in mind why you are doing what you are doing. Make sure your love of the sport is the main reason you are pushing yourself; if you let obstacles and other reasons define your experience it will be a challenging and dreadfully long season. Make sure to also keep yourself in mind- do not be afraid to take a rest day or check in on your physical and mental health. Recovery can sometimes be more beneficial than another workout!

How have your coaches influenced your performances and your life goals?

My coaches all taught me the definition of dedication through their commitment to me and to my team. Their constant support and time commitment was unmatched, and they set an example for me and inspired me to be dedicated to what I love and to who I love. My performances stemmed from their commitment and the time they placed into planning and practicing, but who I am as a person and who I desire to be as a person has been shaped by who they are respectively and what they have taught me. 

What kind of impact did your family have on your time as a high school student-athlete? 

My family was a constant support system. Not only did they drive to meets, pack coolers, bring tents, and cheer me on, but they put in overtime at home, as they always pushed me to work hard, whether it be in school or when I was running. Their love and support is something I will be eternally grateful for; I would not be where I am today without them. 

What are your college or post-high school plans?

I will be running cross country and track at Cornell University. I am still figuring out what exactly I would like to study, but I am thinking something to do with science or math! As for after college, I really have no idea, but I plan to pursue something I love while hopefully staying up north. 

What do you hope to achieve after high school? 

I hope to succeed in school and hopefully find a major, and eventually, a job that I love. I am very excited to meet new people, explore a new place, and continue to grow as a person, a student, and an athlete alongside a wonderful new team, coach, and school community!

Do you see yourself coaching in the future? Please explain and if so, what level and why?

I definitely could see myself coaching in the future. I have helped coach my AAU track team and coached the middle school cross country team at St. Joe's this year, and I really enjoyed getting to watch younger runners push themselves to a level they did not know they could reach. 


To my coach, Coach Kernell, for being like a second mom and for always having my back, to my parents, for helping me believe in myself, to my sisters, for keeping me on my toes and for pushing me to set a good example, and to my team, for providing constant support and for being a second family.  

If there is one thing in the world you could do, what would it be and why? 

Definitely travel. I would love to see new places and experience a variety of cultures! Also, I would love to be able to help build a track for St. Joe's...