Jennings warms up to runningPublished 7:42pm Saturday, August 31, 2013
Four years ago the idea of enjoying long distance running was as foreign to Sarah Jennings as sun block is to residents of the North Pole. However, over time the unthinkable happened, and this summer the Pam Pack cross country runner couldn’t fight the urge to rack up miles on her own.
The additional preseason running paid for the Pam Pack senior, as she coasted past the competition in Washington season-opening four-team meet on Wednesday to win her first-ever race.
“It was not my decision,” Jennings said of joining the team as a freshman. “My mom (Lydie) and my friend’s mom kept saying, ‘you should run, you should run.’ And I was like, ‘I don’t want to.’
“For the first year-and-a-half I hated it. I couldn’t stand it. Then, last year was better and this year I found myself wanting to come to practice and wanting to run. I never thought that anyone could like running, but somehow I just kind of got into it.”
The push to join the cross country team was made by her mom to help Sarah get in better shape for soccer, a sport she has always enjoyed. However, the push to run by her self this summer came from within.
“It wasn’t really until this summer that I found myself get up to run with nobody telling me to,” Jennings said. “At one point it was like ‘alright I’m mad I need to leave the house and get away so I’m going to go running.’
“And that never would have happened before. It would have been anything but running. It takes a while, but if you do it you eventually start to like it.”
Something else Jennings likes is winning, which is something she did on Wednesday for the first time in her four-year career.
“That was the first race I ever won and the first race I’ve ever even come close to winning,” Jennings said. “Maybe it has something to do with the conference change, but I prefer to think it’s because I put more into this year and that it’s paying off.
“It felt amazing. It never happened before. When I was first in the race I couldn’t really understand it. I was like, ‘There’s no girls in front of me. This has never happened before.’”
Washington cross country coach Toby McMahon said Jennings’ transformation this year has been evident.
“Her freshman year it was all new to her,” McMahon said. “She has a nickname Socks because in her freshman year she was running a race and her shoe came off and she had to run the first mile in her socks till I could catch up to her and put her shoe back on. … I think now it that happened she would just kick off her other shoe and run barefoot. She’s got that confidence and experience and there’s really not much you can throw at her. If it’s sunny she runs, if it’s cold she runs.”
As she embarks on her senior year, the girl who didn’t want to run is now set on making a run all the way to the state meet.
“I’m looking to go to state,” Jennings said. “Our team hasn’t done that in a while. We have a big enough team where we can place now, so getting to state would be the goal.”