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Harrell's perseverance pays off

All-County Girls Cross Country

All-County Girls Cross Country

December 08, 2009|By ANDREW MASON

Alison Harrell was hardly prepared for her first day of cross country practice as a freshman at North Hagerstown in 2006.

"Before that, I'd never run more than one mile at one time," she said. "We had a three-mile time trial my third day of practice, and I thought I was going to die."

But Harrell survived, and eventually thrived.

Three years and hundreds of miles later, she emerged as a champion her senior season.

Harrell is The Herald-Mail's 2009 Washington County Girls Cross Country Runner of the Year.

"She's one of the greatest athletes that I've ever trained, just hard-working, dedicated and passionate about the sport," North coach Lindsay Zerance said. "I'm just so happy that she's accomplished so much.

"When she was a freshman, she never thought she'd be that good. But being so goal-oriented, she put in the work and great things happened."

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Harrell won individual titles this fall at the county (20:26) and MVAL Antietam Conference (20:51) championships, leading the Hubs to team victories at both.

"It was a great year," she said. "We had the perfect team this year."

Harrell, who placed eighth (19:33) at the 2A West region championships, said the highlight of the season was her team's third-place finish in Class 2A at the Maryland state meet. She led the way that day too, earning a state medal with her 14th-place finish (22:03) on a muddy and hilly course at Hereford High School.

"It was my last meet racing with my team, so it was a special time," she said.

Harrell made enough progress her freshman season to place 19th at the county championships. She finished eighth in the county as a sophomore and third last year.

"I really felt like this was my year, and I had to put everything into my training," Harrell said. "It was a lot of pressure. I knew my teammates were counting on me."

Harrell said she ran about 40 miles per week over the summer to prepare.

"I logged a lot of miles, more than ever before," she said.

Harrell currently is running indoor track and then will close out her high school career with outdoor track this spring. She said her goal is to qualify for states, both indoors and outdoors.

While Harrell is unsure of her college plans, she said she wants to run at the next level.

"When I first started running, I wasn't very passionate about it. It definitely took some time," she said. "But then once you start to get into it, you just have a passion to keep running and do well at it."

Joining Harrell on The Herald-Mail's all-county first team are:

Stephanie Breen, Smithsburg

The senior placed second (21:36) in the MVAL Antietam, seventh (21:46) in the county, seventh (21:18) in the 1A West region and 18th (23:21) in the 1A state championships.

Christine Brugh, North Hagerstown

The senior placed third (21:39) in the MVAL Antietam, ninth (22:05) in the county, 15th (20:08) in the 2A West region and 28th (22:59) in the 2A state championships.

Alexis Eichelberger, North Hagerstown

The junior placed seventh (22:08) in the MVAL Antietam, third (20:40) in the county, 18th (20:17) in the 2A West region and 26th (22:56) in the 2A state championships.

Lauren Johnson, Smithsburg

The sophomore placed 10th (22:54) in the MVAL Antietam, second (20:40) in the county, third (20:35) in the 1A West region and 14th (23:07) in the 1A state championships.

Amanda Martin, North Hagerstown

The sophomore placed fourth (21:55) in the MVAL Antietam, fifth (21:24) in the county, 19th (20:23) in the 2A West region and 23rd (22:47) in the 2A state championships.

Sarah Zielinski, Boonsboro

The freshman placed 21st (24:18) in the MVAL Antietam, fourth (21:23) in the county, 10th (21:34) in the 1A West region and 13th (23:04) in the 1A state championships.

Second Team

Taylor Cline, So., Smithsburg

Lyndsie Delosier, Jr., Smithsburg

Braden Grosh, Sr., Smithsburg

Suzanne Reed, Jr., Smithsburg

Taylor Reid, Sr., Clear Spring

Ashley Seiler, Jr., North Hagerstown

Emily Simmons, So., North Hagerstown

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