BY DARREN REESE
Sierra McIntosh has had more than her share of bad luck during her high school running career. Now, the West Greene senior is hoping for something good to happen this weekend in the Class A/AA State Cross County Championships in Nashville.
McIntosh has battled through injury after injury to qualify for state all four seasons - only the second cross country runner in school history to do so. She is set to tackle the Percey Warner Steeplechase Course one final time Saturday at 2:30 p.m. CST.
"The past three years, I haven't done very well at state," McIntosh admitted. "Injuries have effected that. But thanks to God, I have to opportunity to go one last time, and I want to make the best of it."
McIntosh dealt with hip problems her first two years. Last season, she was forced to wear a walking boot for several weeks during the season due to tendenitis issues. She overcame that, only to find out she had mononucleosis prior to the state meet. She ran anyway and finished 73rd.
She started the 2012 season off wearing the walking boot, as well. West Greene head coach Daniel Thompson started calling her "Boot". But the past few weeks, McIntosh has started feeling a lot better.
"I have had really bad tendentitis the past few years," McIntosh said. "I would wear the boot to a race, take it off and run, and then put it back on. It really hurt at times."
"But I'm out of the boot now and have been feeling fine."
McIntosh finished eighth at the Region 1-A/AA meet last Thursday to punch her ticket to state. The week before that, she came in third at the Blue Ridge Athletic Conference Championships.
"I think Sierra needed to have a positive senior season, just for herself, and she's done that," Thompson said. "She has laid her heart on the line the past few years, and we expect her to have her best state race ever this Saturday."
McIntosh had to spend part of the season running without senior teammate, and her best friend, Macy Parham. The two came out for the cross country team as freshmen and have been side by side ever since.
Parham had also qualified for state the three previous years, but suffered a knee injury prior to this season and never made it back to full strength. She finished 14th at region meet, four spots shy of making it back to state.
"It's going to be different without her," McIntosh admitted.
Thompson said those two seniors will definitely be missed next season.
"I remember those two coming in as wide-eyed freshmen," Thompson said. "When it came to running, they would do anything you asked of them. They trained extra hours and sank their heart into this sport."
McIntosh never planned on making it this far as a cross country runner, but now that the journey is almost over, she wouldn't have had it any other way.
"I didn't think I would run all four years, but I really have enjoyed it," she said. "After all I've been through, I never would have made it without God being with me. He really does deserve all the credit."