For the first time in 15 years, a Liberty girls cross country runner placed in the top-17 at state.
Liberty sophomore Taylor Brown finished the Group AA state championship race in 19 minutes, 36 seconds Saturday to place 17th on the Great Meadows course in The Plains.
Not since Jennifer Modliszewski won the 1997 AA state race in 18:46.90 has a Liberty girl fared so well.
“It was one of the greatest races I’ve had so far,” Brown said. “I feel great knowing all the hard work from the season built up to this race. It’s just a major accomplishment.”
Brown entered the race as the No. 22 seed based on her qualifying time, she said. She finished the race five spots ahead of that seed.
“I could actually tell I pushed harder because of how tired I was at the end,” Brown said. “Usually I have a big [final] kick, but this time I couldn’t kick as much.”
Modliszewski graduated after winning the state race in 1997 and went on to run for the North Carolina State cross country team. Brown has two more seasons to compete for Liberty, but her goals are modest at this point.
“Become top-15 in the state and PR again,” she said. “And get first in the district.”
Brown finished sixth in Evergreen District race earlier this season, while Warren County’s Kayla Gibbons won that race. So Brown set her sights on beating Gibbons at state, she said.
Gibbons finished 26th Saturday in 19:48. Brown also beat all other runners from the Evergreen District.
Brown missed recording a new personal-record time by two seconds at state. Last week, she finished the Region II race in 19:35 by cutting 63 seconds off her previous best time.
Not only did Brown give the Liberty girls their best finish at state since 1997, she was the first Liberty girl to qualify for state since 2005. Stephanie Giunta placed 46th (20:46.26) as a Liberty sophomore that season.
Brown was also the lone runner from Fauquier County to compete at state this season.
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