Bearden hopes to finish strong
By Kevin Eckleberry Sports Editor
Sarah Bearden is hoping to go out in style.
Bearden, a senior, has had a fantastic career as a cross-country runner at LaGrange High.
She has been the team’s top runner since her sophomore season, and she’s coming off a sixth-place finish at the 2012 state meet.
On Saturday, Bearden will put her LaGrange cross-country uniform on for the final time when she leads her team in the Class AAAA state meet in Carrollton.
Bearden heads to state on the heels of a first-place performance at the Region 5-AAAA meet.
LaGrange finished third as a team to qualify for state.
“I’m as ready as I’ll ever be,” Bearden said after Wednesday’s training run.
Bearden will lead a young team on to the course.
Of the seven LaGrange runners who’ll compete, three of them are freshmen, and one is a sophomore.
Only Bearden and sophomore Ellie Doerr competed at state a year ago.
Bearden has been impressed by the performance of the young runners, and she believes they’re all invested in getting better.
“It’s good to see some people who really want to get better and want to put everything they have into it,” Bearden said. “I’m excited for what they have in their future.”
As a sophomore, Bearden didn’t begin the season as the team’s number one runner.
By the time the region meet rolled around she was leading the way, though.
Bearden was the team’s top finisher at the Region 6-AAA meet, and she also paced the team with a 35th-place finish at state.
That set the stage for a stellar junior season that culminated with her top-10 finish at state.
As a senior, she set the school record with a time of 18:40 at the Asics Invitational, and she won the region meet last week.
“Her sophomore year, she started out as the third girl,” LaGrange head coach Brad Wilson said. “By the end of the year, she was our number one at state. From there, her hard work has been great. She puts in the work over the summer, she runs track.”
Bearden said it’s all about “the determination to come out every day. It will make anyone better.”
LaGrange’s number two runner is Doerr, a sophomore.
At the region meet, Doerr finished 11th with a time of 21:01.
“She’s had a better sophomore year, and I think she can really make a strong jump these next two years,” Wilson said. “She’s got that same work ethic (as Bearden).”
One of the team’s freshmen, Alaina Tomlinson, was 12th at the region meet with a time of 21:03, just two seconds behind Doerr.
Violeta Haro-Oropeza (23:21) was 25th at the region meet, and Colleen Riggs (23:34) was 27th.
Audrey Tomlinson (25:36) and Emma Kate Shelton (26:08) rounded out the lineup for LaGrange.
Those same seven runners will compete at state.
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