Pennington finished up an impressive career, particularly during her senior year. In cross country, she was a two-time state qualifier. As a junior, she was third in District 9 AA and then placed 78th at states. A year later as a senior, she was second in District 9 AA and then moved up to 19th at the state meet, earning a medal. She earned wins at Punxsutawney (in a 5K PR of 19:21) and KSACs.
On the track, Pennington won both the AA 1,600 and 3,200 meter District 9 titles in a strong double her senior year. Then at the state meet, she PR'd in both events. She ran 5:20.10 in the 1,600 prelims, and then she dropped a big PR in the 3,200 meters of 11:08.33 to take seventh for a state medal. Pennington answered some questions for PennTrackXC, reflecting on her career.
My most memorable race was the 2018 PIAA state 3200m race. I ran my fastest time by over 20 seconds and placed 7th. I never thought I was able to decrease my time that much or even medal at the state track meet.
I definitely faced my biggest competition at the state meet; the state meet introduced to much harder competition then I faced all year.
Winning the 1600m and 3200m at the 2018 District 9 championships was my most memorable accomplishments. I never even medaled individually the district championships in the three years I qualified for them, and this was my first time qualifying for the states meet in track. I knew my times improved significantly from previous years in XC and track, but I never dreamed of winning districts in both events.
I would try not to get hurt during my 9th and 10th grade seasons. My times in XC improved by over 4 minutes from 9th to 12th grade, over 1 minute in the 1600m, and over 3 minutes in the 3200m. I believe I could have been able to decrease my times more significantly if I would have ran all of the 4 seasons.
The most difficult obstacles I had to overcome was breaking my foot twice, having a stress fracture in my shin, and having a condition where I would pass out while running. I thought I would have to quit running my 10th grade year.
I'll miss having dual meets with local high schools the most. I made a lot of friends from other schools by competing against them, and the overall atmosphere of the smaller meets was really fun.
I would tell all younger athletes the biggest obstacle you have to defeat to get better is yourself. Running is a mental sport; if you think you can do better and push through the pain you will.
My cross country coaches, Coach Mac and Coach Gaiser, have shown me the importance that hard work has in success. They always encouraged effort and the fact of running being a mental game. The way they taught me to work will be an attribute I can utilize throughout my life.
I am attending Chatham University and will be a member of there XC and track team as well as the honors program. I will be working to obtain a BS Biology degree, and then attending medical school to receive a MD in hematology and oncology.
I would like to give a shoutout to my parents. My mom has always supported my running and came to my meets to cheer me on. My dad started me running and then has been my personal coach since I began in 7th grade. He always plans my races, workouts, assistant coaches XC and track, gives splits, and even runs throughout the course to support me. Both of my parents always support me and my goals.