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Three places.Three lousy places from qualifying for the state cross country meet as a sophomore.It’s the kind of thing that can make one sad, disconsolate about missing something every high school runner dreams about.Or it makes one that much more determined not to let it happen a second time.Such is the case for Riverside junior Cassie Semyon, who understands why people could fall into one category or the other, and understands what she needs to do to accomplish her goal.“My main goal is to make it to states; that’s what I’m working for,” Semyon said. “Of course there was a little disappointment.”While the near-miss occasionally enters her mind, the junior prefers to look at all the things that went right before she finished 20th in a run on the rainy day at Elk Lake with her season on the line.There was a course record time of 22 minutes, 55 seconds, she established at Riverside, rebounding from a slow start for her first year on the varsity team to set herself as a runner to watch. That was a long way from the way she felt at the beginning of the 2012 campaign.“Last year I was the low man on the totem pole,” Semyon said. “There were a lot of upperclassmen ahead of me.”Setting the record on her home course gained her a lot of respect among her teammates, putting her firmly in the family the squad feels like to Semyon.“It often feels like a second family,” Semyon said. “We all get along and that makes each other work harder together.”Being comfortable seems to make Semyon work better, puts her in a better frame of mind, makes her feel like she belongs.“Last year was her first time on varsity,” Riverside cross country coach Deb Kapelan said. “She was a little apprehensive, even though she finished her junior high career on a high note.”“It was a little nerve-wracking,” Semyon said. “Riverside isn’t known for its cross country program, and you’re competing against some of the best kids in the state. It’s scary at first, but then I felt like I belonged.”The other reason she has to feel strong about her chances on making the state meet is a rather simple one.“I fell a few times,” Semyon said, and one gets the feeling that some runners passed her while she was down in the mud at Elk Lake that day. “It was disappointing, but it’s pushing me harder.“Once I set my mind to doing something, I push myself hard to get to my goal, to reach my goal and to surpass it.”She reminds herself of that quite often, putting the chase of her goals in a simple little statement.“Anything is possible,” Semyon said. “This season is an open book.”What will be missing is self-doubt, or any sense of low self-confidence. Setting a school record so early in her varsity career should make sure those thoughts never enter her mind.“My teammates will be there to push me,” Semyon said. “I only started running in eighth grade, and they’re all pushing me harder to being my best.”Breaking that school record will be a challenge, since Riverside runs at home just once in Lackawanna League competition, forcing Semyon to be at her best on a certain day to lower the course record she already owns.But if she can do that, and also qualify for the state meet this year will surely go a long way to making Semyon feel like she belongs.Her 20th-place finish n the district meet left her three long, and at the same time, short, places shy of making states. Semyon is relying on trying to beat her own time without beating herself up.