A bad week of sleep wasn’t enough to stop Nation Ford freshman Katie Pou from winning the 5A individual girls cross-country state title.
Pou said she had a hard week of school and didn’t sleep well leading up to the state championships Saturday at the Sandhills Research Center, but was able to shake it all off to take the title in 18:31.
She tried not to get to ahead of herself mentally before the race, Pou said.
“I had a tough week of school this past week,” Pou said. “What I kept in mind was to just do the best I could.”
And that was more than good enough.
Pou finished 19 seconds ahead of the second place runner, Fort Mill’s Sydney George. Pou and Nation Ford, along with Fort Mill, ran a nearly identical course last week at the state qualifier in the same location. Pou said that helped her Saturday.
“I think it allowed me to know a lot about what came next,” she said. “It helped me to visualize and know where to turn.”
Pou is just the second state champion in the sport for Nation Ford and the first female from the school to win the title.
Bittersweet for runner-up
George, also a freshman, came in at 18:50, a personal best for her. The race was bittersweet for George as it was her last one in a Fort Mill uniform; Her family is moving to Texas soon.
“I usually get nervous before races, but once the gun goes off I am in the zone,” George said. “I really had some big motivation since it was my last race. I didn’t expect at all to finish second because I felt I started out too fast.”
The Fort Mill boys’ and girls’ cross country teams led York County 5A schools with both squads finishing in the top-10. With the help of George’s second place finish and a fourth place finish from Fort Mill’s Abby Dawson in 18:57, Fort Mill’s girls placed fourth in the team standings. Pou, George and Dawson made All-State honors by finishing in the top 15. Riverside won the girls’ 5A state team title.
Fort Mill head coach Marc Pyrc said he was ecstatic about how his teams did. Last year, the boys team missed qualifying for the state meet, so getting them in this year was a big accomplishment. He said George’s and Dawson’s performance really pushed the Jackets’ girls team.
“I was expecting them to run well, but I didn’t expect them to finish second and fourth,” he said.
Nation Ford’s girls finished 14th overall and Northwestern’s girls finished 18th. Rock Hill’s Morgan Werner just missed on getting All-State honors and finished 16th overall in 19:38 as the Bearcats’ highest finisher. The top finisher for Northwestern’s girls was Piper Grant in 69th place at 20:52.
The boys race was won by Dorman with 87 points edging Riverside who finished second with 88 points. The Fort Mill boys placed 10th overall and the Northwestern boys finished 15th. Leading the way for the Fort Mill boys was Ethan Smith, who finished 38th in 17:00 and for Northwestern it was Jalen Shropshire, who finished 50th in 17:11. Rock Hill’s lone boys runner was Isaiah Barnes who finished in 62nd place in 17:19 and Nation Ford’s lone boys runner was Thomas Windell, who finished 68th in 17:25.
Mac Banks: email@example.com; @MacBanksFM