For Price, big pain brought big gains

Girls Cross Country Runner of the Year

by Aaron Garcia

Weddington’s Mallary Price is Union County Weekly’s 2011 Girls Cross Country Runner of the Year. (Aaron Garcia/UCW photo)

As recently as this past summer, Mallary Price hated running. She despised it. She cursed it and her coach, Rick Spencer, while the two of them toiled in the summer heat, grinding out miles and miles of preparation.

“I was crying after practice,” said Price, a Weddington junior. “Honestly, there were times before practice I would dread to go because I knew I’d have to huff and puff. I couldn’t breathe, but finally I got used to it.”

Not only did she get used to it; she excelled enough to earn the title of Union County Weekly’s 2011 Girls Cross Country Runner of the Year.

At the Class 3A state championship meet, Price posted the best time of any Union County girls runner with a time of 19 minutes, 18 seconds – a time that narrowly bettered Cuthbertson’s Madison Simmons’ effort of 19:20 in the 2A meet. Price also took second place at the 3A Midwestern Regional (18:56).

But her success didn’t come solely in the postseason, as she won five meets during the regular season, including the Weddington Cross Country Invitational (18:29), the Union County Championship (19:35) and the Wendy’s Invitational (18:48).

“I complained multiple times (this year) about (my training),” she said with a smile, “but I’m glad I stuck with it because it definitely paid off.”

And while the wins and the postseason success were nice, said Price, her favorite moment from this year’s cross country campaign came in an early-season home meet at Weddington, where she set the school’s 5-kilometer record with a time of 18 minutes, 26 seconds.

It was the fastest 5K time posted in the county this season.

“I had no idea I was (close),” she said. “I honestly thought I was running slow. That’s what I was aiming for the whole time – all I wanted to do was break the school record.”

Now, looking back at her success and the sweat equity that led to it, Price can’t help but recall the tears and exhaustion that helped her become Union County’s top cross country runner this season.

And thanks to the success, she remembers it all fondly.

“It means a lot because when I started running (in ninth grade), I was terrible,” she said. “I was running 28-minute 5Ks. Just to have the ability (to improve that much) shows the hard work paid off.

“If I can do it, I know other people can do it, too. Nothing’s impossible.”

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