Speed and so much more


Kate McCartney

Junior Ali Bainbridge has left a lasting impact on the running programs at LHS and the school as a whole.

Kate McCartney, Editor-in-Chief

In recent years, LHS has carried a winning tradition of accomplished cross country and track programs. A key part of their continued success is standout junior runner, Ali Bainbridge.

Bainbridge transferred to LHS at the beginning of her sophomore year (2020-21) and has been an asset to both the cross country and track teams ever since. As a freshman at Lennox, she earned the title of South Dakota Gatorade Cross Country Athlete of the Year and has only been racking up more awards and titles as a runner at LHS. The latest 2021-22 cross country season was seen as a success story for Bainbridge in many different aspects; most impressively at the State meet, she was able to run a time of 17:41, setting a personal best and earning her the titles of Individual Runner-Up and South Dakota XC All-American.

“This season I think was really fun, especially with COVID-19 not having as much of an impact. I feel like it did play effect, but we still had a lot of our bigger meets,” said Bainbridge. “I did want to get the State title obviously, but I ran a pretty good time and gave it everything I had, so that’s all I can really ask for.”

Along with her personal success, Bainbridge was the largest statistical contributor to the Runner-Up title for the cross country girls as a whole, “setting a Team Course Record every race she ran,” (@sioux_falls_lincoln_xc on Instagram).

“All the girls and the guys pretty much ran faster times throughout the season, which is what we want,” said Bainbridge. “We did fall a little short of our team goal for the state title, but we grew so much as a team and had fun, so I think that’s what matters most.”

She has won many individual titles in cross country, as well track titles in the 800 and 1600 meter races, but arguably her best race is the 3200, in which she holds the 2020-21 State champion title. Bainbridge looks to grow even more as a runner this track season and even next year. 

“For track, I’d like to run faster times, that’s always a goal. I’d like to win the State two-mile again and hopefully get another State title in the mile or the 800,” said Bainbridge. “For next year, I’d like to win state and I’d like our girls to win state too.”

For Bainbridge, running is much more than just a sport or a way to exercise. She has the word “run” tattooed on the back of her leg, proving its deep and personal significance to her.

“Running has always been something really important in my family. My older sister ran cross country and track in high school and college as well,” said Bainbridge. “My brother passed away when I was in kindergarten, so we did glow runs in memory of him. It’s always something I can come back to when I’m stressed or worried, just like run. Run it out.”

Along with running, Bainbridge is very committed to fitness, training continually throughout the year to stay in State-champion shape. 

“In season, we just have a practice after school where we do a couple warm-up laps and our dynamic warm-ups, and then we have our run and then sometimes a team talk,” said Bainbridge. “Out of season, I still run but I also instruct yoga at Ignite, so I do a lot of hot yoga. I’ll do that before school and run less mileage in the winter.”

Bainbridge started doing hot yoga in 7th grade when she had an injury, but still wanted to keep up her strength. She eventually found that its many benefits coincide with her training for the cross country and track seasons.

“I think it helps with overall strength for running,” said Bainbridge. “The heat aspect is also good for cross country because we are racing in a bunch of different conditions outside. It might be like 90 degrees and I can handle the heat really well because I’ve been doing hot yoga for so long.”

Hot yoga is not only one of Bainbridge’s hobbies, but it also doubles as a job and another way to be physically active. She has been a hot yoga instructor at Ignite Fitness Studio since summer 2021. 

“I just love fitness and helping others, so I love that [in hot yoga] we’re all working hard together,” said Bainbridge. “It helps with running a lot because yoga sculpt uses cardio and weights in a 100-degree room. It’s pretty intense, but it’s such a fun way to workout if you’re getting into working out.”

Overall, it is safe to say that Bainbridge’s multitude of achievements, running or otherwise, do not go unnoticed at LHS. She is one of the most influential student-athletes to grace the halls and strives to grow her impressive legacy throughout her junior and senior years. Be sure to catch her out on the track this spring… if you are fast enough.