Waking up Saturday morning, I had no idea what to expect. I started the season off very strong, but my past two races were not as fast as I had hoped. I lost to some opponents I shouldn’t have earlier in the season and I had not yet faced the talented individuals from District 1 and the WPIAL.
However, I knew my final state championship race would ultimately be the only one that will matter to me down the road. The morning went relatively smoothly. I listened to a lot of music to suppress my nerves and I only really started getting antsy during my warm up. I did not look around much on the line. I only looked straight down the stretch and back at my team’s starting box.
I tried to get it through my head that this was my last state championship as the starter raised the flag, but I couldn’t get it to register. The gun fired and everyone took off sprinting. A lot of shoving occurred at first, but I eventually settled into my favorite spot right along the edge of the course. I went through the mile with the top group in 4:56 and still felt nervous, unsure how those around me were feeling.
This mindset continued until the top of the second large hill in mile 2. I was still in the front pack and my least favorite part of the course was over. At this point I knew I had the potential to have a good day. I finally realized this was my final opportunity to get a state medal in cross country and began pushing as hard as I could. I ultimately finished fourth, surpassing my own expectations and leaving myself extremely satisfied.