The Twerp Starts her Junior Year


I know, I suck as a human being. I’m long overdue for an update. Short update, the Twerp ran multiple 5:06s her soph season and was second in the 16 and 32 at State behind a brilliant triple run by senior McKenzie Wilks, who ran 4:51 at Festival of Miles (where the Twerp won the Elite Development Mile in 5:06).

Started off the season sick but found her stride the weekend at Rim Rock, where she ran 18:52 on a very challenging course, 25 seconds faster than the same meet last year and only 4 seconds off her own school record. Pic is her in the home stretch.


Interesting junior year with the new NCAA recruiting rules. They can now be contacted by coaches and take official visits starting Sept. 1 junior year; old rule in place forever was that the was no contact or official visits until senior year.


Guess who’s a state cross country champion? On a day when soft ground from recent rains and significantly warmer temps had kids running 30-45 seconds slower on the same course than they did a month ago, the Twerp ran 6 seconds faster, knocking of last years state champ and state Gatorade Cross Country Runner of the Year.

Twerp Wins State XC Title


She also “stuck the landing” in her post-race MileSplit interview: The Twerp’s post-race interview


Twerp nominated for state Gatorade XC runner of the year. Probably a long shot but still cool to be in the mix.

And she’s on a mission for track. Could get interesting.


I was wondering how she was doing this year and just now came across this thread. Congrats to her and best of luck for Indoor and Outdoor!


Would you ask Sarah to share her college plans with us?

Congrats on your MileSplit articles getting major national attention


I will do that, WiT. She’s been a little slow to engage in the recruiting process but that’s changing quickly. She’s heard from a number of Big 10, Big 12 and SEC schools, and, based on what I’m seeing, I have a feeling that will ramp up quickly this spring if she keeps running the way she is.

Last year was her “transition” year. She stopped growing probably last winter or spring but her musculature hadn’t caught up with her longer limb length yet, so the net effect was that she lost some of her basic speed. Add to that she was on Accutane (which has some nasty side effects, including lowering her ferritin about 30%) and the fact that she STILL PRd in track and won State XC was a great sign for the future. She finally got off the Accutane in August and by October I was seeing signs that her strength was returning and the Accutane side effect were gone.

We talked after XC about the fact that with her growth behind her, it was time to ramp up the strength work to start getting power out of her longer limbs. Her high school coach thought the same thing and she’s been lifting 2-3 times per week and it already shows. Off nothing faster than repeat miles and her strength work, she dropped a 2:25 800 PR the second week in January. Not an indoor PR - an absolute PR. She followed that up the next week with a 5:14 mile in a comfortable win, negative splitting by 6 seconds, all of it coming in the last 400. That was a 6-second indoor PR. But the most notable difference is in how much more powerful she looks than a year ago, as you can see in these pics.

Her goals for the spring are sub-5:00 and sub-10:50, and both seem quite realistic at this point, especially given that she ran 5:06 and 11:01 last year as a soph on Accutane coming out of a growth spurt. I also think there’s a 2:16-2:18 800 in there this spring but she very rarely gets to run the 800.



Thanks for the update! I had been wondering how she was doing this year. Best of luck in the spring and during the recruiting process!


This may be even more interesting than first thought. She has run some jaw-dropping workouts recently without any undue stress. On Monday a week ago, she ran her first significant interval workout (as opposed to just a few reps after a run or something). It was 35 degrees and raining, and the track was covered in slush from recent snows. In those conditions, she ran 8 x 400 with 2:30 recovery, averaging 76 and dropping 73 on the last one, finishing ahead of all of the guys except our 4:24/9:31 senior. On a dry day and a dry track, she probably averages 74, maybe faster, and it’s literally the first time she’s doing a workout at anywhere near race pace.

Then, just two days later, she ran a 4M tempo in 24:12 (6:03 average). First slightly downhill mile was 5:54. She was so comfortable she was talking even in the third mile. Her heart rate two minutes afterwards was 133.

For comparison, last year when she ran 5:06, she did that 400 workout averaging 78-79 and that was with 30 seconds more recovery and not running in the rain and and slush. Her best tempo during that time was only 3M at 6:20 pace. This was a mile longer and 17 seconds/mile faster.

She told me later that week that she thinks she could time trial a sub-5:00 in practice right now and based on what I’m seeing, I agree. Things are starting to point in the direction that she might even have a sub-4:50 in her by Festival of Miles the week following the state meet. She could also be looking at 10:35 or better. Times in that range would put her in the top 10-20 HS juniors in the country. Her first meet is still a month away, but she’s already training at an entirely different level than she’s ever been on before. If the weather’s even halfway decent she could open up in sub-5:00/sub-10:50. It’s a pretty short list of girls in the country who didn’t run indoors who could open up that fast in late March. Her coach isn’t sure yet what she’ll run at the first meet.


First meet is Friday, 3/22. A girl who ran 4:57 last year should be there and hoping she and the Twerp run the same events. I put a bug in the coaches ear to enter the Twerp in both the 1600 and 3200 and scratch out of whatever this girl isn’t running. Same girl ran 18:08 at Rim Rock; for perspective, only three girls have broken 18:00 on that course: Cailie Logue (HS 4:41/10:09/16:45 XC), Molly Born (4:46/10:06/16:48 XC) and Jaybe Shufleberger. All three qualified for NXN. Emily Venters (HS 4:49/10:16/16:58 XC) ran 18:09 there then ran 16:58 to qualify for NXN. This girl is legit. She’s a senior and signed with Iowa State.

It’s been a long, hard winter of training here. She told me the other day that she’s so hungry to race she’s been “playing Mario Kart every day.” Let’s DO this!


Good Luck!


Opened in 5:02.97. Led the whole way chasing a time then got outkicked. Still a very solid opener, and confirms that low 4:50s are possible by the end of the season.


Nice job!


To my untrained eye it looks like if Sarah was the drafter instead of the leader the positions would have been reversed.
Having the ability to run the last 400 faster than the average pace will always be useful tool for the distance runner. Running a lot faster than the average pace for the final 400 and being able to produce an even faster last 100 of that 400 will always be a powerful tool for the distance runner.
Having great competition next to you always makes for a great race.
Knowing you gave your best against the best and came up a step short is the greatest motivator to take to the training track.
The hard fought battle molds the man not the victory.


You’re absolutely right, WiT, and she knows that now. Two things: (1) she was chasing sub-5:00, come Hell or high water and (2) that was a huge breakthrough for that girl. She was like the 3rd or 4rh seed in the race. She can close but that wasn’t what she was after. She was after changing that first digit on her PR. Had she known what that girl was capable of going in, she would have a different strategy. As it sits, she’s currently the #21 junior in the U.S.


21st is great gets her name college recruiters on college scouts radar

How did her actual pace hold up against planned pace ?
My HS Coach Marty Lewis taught the distance guys if the goal is to PR don’t get into the race for the ribbon just hit your pace & at 400 to go your aim is to use anyone in front of you to motivate your run-in to the PR- pick them off one by one


The Twerp drops a 10:52/5:05 double with the 10:52 in 20mph wind. Won the 3200 32 seconds, the 1600 by 4. Beat an NXN qualifier in the 1600. Negative split both, going 5:29/5:23 in the 3200 (with a 74 last lap) and 2:35/2:30 in 1600 (with a 72 last lap)




NICE! Thanks for the update.


Running a 1600 fresh Friday (the doubling back in the 800), and running a 3200 fresh next Friday. Not expecting much competition, but more likely to have someone with her for a while in the 1600 this Friday. Goal is to get best marks possible to ensure she’s in the Championship race at Festival of Miles and (here’s breaking news) get in to the fastest race possible at NBNO. Yup…Twerp stepping out on the national stage at NBN.