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A standout among the pack
Fennimore freshman Asa Cutting achieving personal goals on cross country course
Fennimore freshman Asa Cutting competes during the boys’ JV race at the Fennimore Relays Thursday, Sept. 24 at Hickory Grove Golf Course.

FENNIMORE — Fennimore’s Asa Cutting is your typical freshman.

He is a happy 15-year old, would love to make others smile. He is also shy at times, but is finding himself as a member of the Fennimore High School cross country team this fall.

Cutting also has autism but has made great progress during the first five weeks of his first year of high school in part because of his teammates and coaches. One of those teammates is classmate Carter Bunn, who was instrumental in coaxing Cutting to join the cross country this fall, as well as the wrestling team during middle school.

“Asa is really just like any other kid walking down the hallway,” said Fennimore cross country coach Ryanne Carl. “He is an inquisitive young man that always wants to make everyone happy.  He has really come out of his shell and his personality is really shining through this year.”

Asa attends every practice the team has. He is typically the first athlete over at the park and he welcomes everyone to practice with a quick hello and a smile. 

Asa takes part in every team activity — core, strength, meditation, ect. — like every other member of the team. He begins every workout and goes as long as he can.

“If the team is running six 1,200-meter repeats, Asa will typically do three or four repeats,” said Carl. “There are many athletes that do portions of the workouts.  Many of our newcomers and underclassmen will do one less repeat than our veterans. Asa isn’t much different at all.”

Asa cheered on his teammates from the sidelines at the Golden Eagles’ first three races of the season at Iowa–Grant (Sept. 5), at Darlington (Sept. 12) and at Boscobel (Sept. 17).

But the Fennimore Relays on Thursday, Aug. 25 was Asa’s turn to shine. He had never competed in a meet prior to the Eagle Relays.

“We wanted it to be something that he wanted to do and not something that he was doing to make everyone else happy,” explained Carl. “We simply asked him what he thought about racing. He was hesitant at first, but then we came up with a plan for him to help him be successful.  Our goal was for Asa to run the first mile of the course.”

Cutting competed in the boys’ JV race, the first of 10 races on the day at the Eagle Relays.

“Asa did the warm up, the strides and build ups with the team and was right at the starting line with everyone else,” said Carl. “It was so cool to see Asa toe the start line and compete with his teammates that he trains with every day of the week.

“His goal was to race for the entire first mile of the race.  His initial reaction was that he didn’t want to let the team down or to make anyone disappointed. But how could we be? Once he was reassured that the team fully supported him, he seemed to be excited and nervous for the new experience. Overall, it was a great first race for him!”

Sophomore teammate Lily Connley was stationed along the course to help encourage Asa and was there to help in case he wanted or needed it. The rest team was cheering loud for him like they do for every teammate. And there were lots of high fives when he arrived at his finish line.

“I think that Asa running with the team is such a great opportunity for him,” added Carl. “I love when someone can try something new.  That’s the beauty of cross country, it doesn’t discriminate. It accepts runners of all abilities and strengths and teaches them so much about themselves.

“Everyone treats Asa with the same respect that they treat everyone with. They are patient, kind and overall the best teammates anyone could ask for. We are so lucky to be surrounded by so many compassionate people on the team who care so greatly for one another.”

The lesson here is acceptance and faith. Don’t ever limit yourself because of your circumstances. 

Fennimore’s Asa Cutting a prime example.

After his personal success at the Fennimore Relays, Cutting was back on the starting line at last Thursday’s Boscobel Dark Park 5K at Kronshage Park.

“This time, his goal was to race for 1.5 miles, which he crushed,” said Carl. “I wish I would have been at the 1.5 mile mark to see if he would have wanted to run further, because he was literally killing it.  He will have the opportunity to race two more times this season.”

Asa is the son of Paul and Rose Cutting.

Fennimore returns to action this Saturday at Riverdale at 11 a.m. Cutting and the Golden Eagles will close out regular season Tuesday, Oct. 13 at the SWAL Championships back in Boscobel.