Swanson caps ‘awesome’ 1st cross country season with berth in state championship race

ELKTON — Maybe winning her cross country debut could be dismissed as beginner’s luck.

But after she won her second race and then her third race, Alden Swanson had to be taken seriously.

That’s why we aren’t surprised, and others shouldn’t be either, that the Kent County High School sophomore is running right up until the final day of the season.

Swanson, 15, is the only Trojan to qualify for tomorrow’s state championship races at Hereford High School in Parkton.

She punched her ticket to the notoriously hilly course in Baltimore County by virtue of her top-10 finish at the Class 1A East Region race Nov. 2 at Fair Hill in Cecil County.

Swanson toured the 5,000-meter course —  a mix of grass horse track, pasture and trail running, and mildly rolling hills in the middle portion — in 22 minutes, 32.55 seconds. She was ninth among 52 girls.

The top 15 competitors extended their season for one final week.

Swanson said her priority was to qualify for states, but a secondary goal was to run under 22 minutes.

“It was a tough course, some hills and a grassy section through woods,” she said. “And it was cold and a little breezy.”

She said she thinks if she had “pushed harder” she might have been able to finish as high as fifth, but was content to hold her top-10 spot throughout the race.

Three wins, placing 13th of 66 at the Bayside Conference championship and 19th of 248 at the Tidewater Fall Classic, and now qualifying for states in her first season of high school sports has “been pretty awesome,” Swanson said.

This week it’s been all about stretching, tapering and “getting in the mindset” for a state championship race.

Workouts have been light, and there was no practice on Friday.

Her expectations for race day?

“Whatever happens, happens,” she said. “I’m just embracing the opportunity.”

 

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