Runyan earns Female Runner of the Year award for 2nd straight year
There wasn’t much Frederica Academy junior cross-country runner Ellie Runyan didn’t accomplish this season.
As an individual runner, she won the region title and the state championship title — never finishing outside the top five in a race this year. Runyan also was the second overall runner on the Altamaha Area XC team. She also helped lead the girl’s team to another GISA Region 2-3A title and a runner-up finish in the state meet.
With this much success, The News chose Runyan to be the Female Runner of the Year for the second time as she earned the honor last year.
“Pushing myself to my personal best has always been my goal, and I’m proud of myself for accomplishing that,” Runyan said. “Being called the best female runner in the Golden Isles is just a little icing on the cake.”
She won the region title this season with a 21:49 and won state with a 20:38 time. Her time at the state meet was her career-best after improving her 20:52 time from last year, improving her personal best by 14 seconds. She also improved her region title time from 22:28.45 last year.
“Winning state and winning region was a great reward after a hard season of training and while fighting through some injuries,” Runyan said. “With the help of my teammates and my coaches, I have become stronger both mentally and physically. I am excited for next season to bring home the state title as a team.”
Runyan said she felt like she’s improved the most on the last quarter mile and finishing strong during races with her coaches’ help by pushing her.
“My coaches have taught me how to keep my endurance up throughout the race so that I finish the race stronger than I started it,” Runyan said. “All of our workouts were geared to make us a stronger second-half team.”
Runyan said she had multiple memorable moments but what stood out to her the most was seeing a special someone on the course each race.
“My favorite memory was seeing (Young Life regional director Jack Key) cheering us on at every race,” Runyan said. “It was always a surprise when I saw him because I never knew where he’d be on the course. What made it so memorable was that he gave his time to our team with only the expectation to help us achieve our own goals.”
Runyan is just a junior for the Knights and will be back next season, where she will be looking to defend her titles.