Published 12:00 am Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Rebecca Parker has done what few cross country runners in the county have done. Win the county championship three straight years.
That makes the West Rowan senior an easy choice for Rowan County Cross Country Runner of the Year. She actually made a wrong turn at the county race at Dan Nicholas Park in September, but it didn’t matter. The light-footed Parker took first place by 50 seconds. When she won it as a sophomore, it surprised everybody. But by dominating for the third-straight year as a senior, it was basically standard procedure.
“I started to get into cross country seriously as a sophomore,” Parker said. “My mentality is running is just so mental. Endurance will come with practice. Having the right mentality is the hard part.”
Parker finished in 20:04 at the county meet to start a great year. She came in second place at the SPC meet to Northwest Cabarrus’ Emma Hand. and was 10th at the regional meet. She qualified for the state 3A meet, finishing 39th in 20:06. It was a thrill for Parker, who missed the state meet last year due to injury.
“I was just happy to be there,” Parker said. “I was hoping to get a PR but had a bad day.”
Naturally, the West Rowan senior is also a pretty good soccer player in the spring.
“At the beginning of the season we sat in the coaches’ room and made a list of individual and team goals,” Parker said. “Two of mine were to finish in the top 20 in the state and finish a run in under 18 minutes.”
Parker’s considering a host of colleges in the region about running after high school.

East Rowan had seven finishers in the top 13 of the county meet. ER sophomore Faith Blume finished fourth in 21:12. Tori Gaul, Haley Lyerly, Karlie Neigel, Anna Louise Alexander and Sydney Feriante were the other East girls to make A-C. Salisbury’s Susannah Dixon had a runner up time at the championship with a 20:54. West’s Josie Heglar was third in 20:59. Carson’s Katie Nichols and Jordan Couch were seventh and ninth at the county meet. Ashlyn Mills represented North Rowan.