HEBRON — The Fredericktown Freddies returned to the cross country podium Saturday.
Senior Sarah Fowler finished 14th in the Division III girls race in the State Cross Country Championships at National Trail Raceway.
It was her first appearance at the state tournament — one she said she will never forget.
“I feel like I could cry right now,” Fowler said just minutes after crossing the finish line. “I think I already did. I’m just so happy right now.”
Fowler was one of four local runners at Saturday’s event. Her teammate, freshman Bailey Gannon, ran in the boys race, as did Centerburg junior William Thatcher. Highland’s Logan Ebersole took part in the Division II boys race.
But it was Fowler who had the best finish. After finding herself in 12th place at the one-mile and two-mile marks, her final time of 19:00.38 was helped by a solid push on the final stretch that kept her ahead of three other runners. Allison Parks of United High School also had a final push, allowing her to finish 8/100 of a second faster than Fowler.
Thousands of fans cheered as Fowler crossed the finish line to grab one of the final podium spots — the Top 16 get medals.
“I worked so hard to get here,” said Fowler. “(The crowd) was the loudest thing I’ve ever heard. It was overwhelming, all the excitement. I thought, ‘I could actually do this. I can go faster.’”
Fowler was joined by her Fredericktown teammates before the race for their usual ritual of a huddle and a prayer. This time, it was all for Fowler.
“They care so much about me and how I do,” said Fowler. “So I had to do my best to show them I can do what they think I can.”
Gannon, who ran for Highland Middle School last year, finished 110th with a time of 17:52.35. He actually led the field at the quarter-mile mark, but fell off quickly and ended the race disappointed.
“I thought I went out slow enough,” said Gannon, “but, I don’t know, something was happening with me today.”
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