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High school cross country: West’s Spicer signs with Lincoln Memorial

By Mike London

mike.london@salisburypost.com

MOUNT ULLA —West Rowan senior and aspiring veterinarian Megyn Spicer already has racked up solid experience dealing with animals.

“I’ve got two cats, two rabbits, one bird, one guinea pig, one dog and a gecko,” said Spicer, going down the list like she’s shopping for groceries.

Geckos are small lizards. “Dart,” the gecko, is definitely the most exotic and unusual creature in Spicer’s menagerie.

Family and friends threw a signing party for Spicer on Friday at the The Revival Golf Club At The Crescent.

A distance runner, she’s headed to Lincoln Memorial University in Harrogate, Tenn., more than 250 miles away. She could be part of the track and field squad as well as the cross country team.

The biggest attractions at LMU are the scenery and the nationally renowned veterinary program.

LMU, the Railsplitters, well known to Catawba fans for their powerful South Atlantic Conference men’s basketball program, boasts that if offers hands-on veterinary education starting from the first semester. That got Spicer’s attention.

“I looked at places with good vet programs where I would be interested in going to school and we started emailing back and forth,” Spicer said. “I had a chance to go up there and explore some. It was beautiful that day, lots of hills and mountains and morning fog. It was my first choice, and it worked out.”

In the summer of 2015, Spicer was one of the girls who brought back a Little League World Series from Oregon and became a local celebrity. She was tiny then, “Little Spice,” and looked like the younger sister of most of her teammates.

“My athletic background was mostly softball, but I started to run in middle school,” Spicer said.

West Rowan High coach Scott Foster remembers the first time he saw Spicer run in the eighth grade.

“She was running track the day I met her and her mom,” Foster said. “I put her through a speed workout. She had no idea what she was getting herself into, but she showed a lot of heart getting through that workout. Heart always has been Megyn’s biggest strength as a runner.”

Spicer was still “Little Spice” when she became the Falcons’ top female distance runner as a freshman.

“I was 90 pounds then, kind of a mini-person,” Spicer said. “That’s been one of the biggest challenges I’ve faced because as I’ve gotten older, I’ve grown to being more normal-sized.”

She’s 5-foot-4 now.

While her “mini-person” days are behind her, Spicer has become an important part of West’s strong softball program, someone who is versatile and can play multiple positions for coach Jimmy Greene. As a sophomore, she served primarily as the catcher for hard-throwing hurler Whitley Arnott. As a junior, she watched her season go up in COVID flames like everyone else.

As far as cross country, it would be hard to find anyone more consistent than Spicer has been.

She’s been All-Rowan County four times and All-North Piedmont Conference four times.

“As far as I know of, Josie Heglar is the only other girl at West to do that,” Foster said.

In NPC Championship meets, Spicer has finished eighth, sixth, eighth and seventh. That event has been run on three different courses during her career, and every cross country course is different, but she’s clocked almost identical times. She’s run between 22:11 and 22:27.

In the Rowan County Championships, she’s placed fifth, eighth, 10th and 11th. Her times have been between 22:31 and 23:31.

“Dan Nicholas Park, the old layout, not the one we ran this season, would be my favorite local course,” Spicer said. “But my favorite course of all would be one (in Hope Mills) where we compete in the Jungle Run night race.”

Spicer turned in a 21:59 clocking in the regional in the fall of 2017 at Charlotte’s McAlpine. Her PR is 21:31.

The last event of her high school cross country career unexpectedly turned out to be the North Piedmont Conference Championships that were contested at the Statesville soccer complex.

She didn’t get to compete in the regional this year due to injury.

“I suffered a stress injury in the conference meet,” Spicer said. “That course was half grass and half concrete.”

She tried to rehab for the regional with extensive leg workouts, but she wasn’t able to run.

“She’s also had hip issues and she’s had foot issues, but she’s always pushed through everything,” Foster said. “She’s a very tough runner.”

Even with West cross country in the rear-view mirror, Spicer stays busy with softball workouts and her job at Chick-fil-A.

And there are animals to care for.

Dart, the gecko, is always ready to consume a worm or cricket.

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