Abington Heights senior Katie Dammer capped her high school cross country career by placing 23rd out of 199 runners in the Nike Cross Nationals Girls Championship Race Dec. 2 in Portland, Oregon.
The Georgetown University commit knew the race would be a big challenge and was satisfied with her effort.
“I knew that I was in good shape because I put in a lot of good training and a lot of good workouts over the past couple weeks and months, but I also knew there were a lot of really competitive girls and it would be interesting to see how I finished,” Dammer said. “I took it out hard and I think I was competitive the whole time, so I’m really happy with the way I finished.
“I went out fast because the alternative was to get caught up with 100 other girls who are going the same speed as me and then get spit out the back and not be able to make up any ground. I preferred to get out hard. I definitely faded a little bit, but I don’t regret it because I know that I left everything out there and I had plenty of space to move around however I wanted.”
The race was particularity challenging for Dammer due to the large number of high-caliber runners and unfamiliarity with many of the competitors.
“There were so many girls who I’ve never raced before,” Dammer said. “I didn’t know their strategy or strengths. It was really different because everyone went out fast and everyone was of similar ability. It was interesting because it was all about who felt the best on that day and who really wanted it more in that moment.”
A steady rain throughout the race added another wrinkle to the event.
“The weather was rough,” Dammer said. “It’s a 100 percent grass course and it was very muddy and torn up. I actually had a lot of fun with it and I think because I had pretty relaxed expectations; it was almost exciting that there was this other wildcard getting thrown in there to see how all the girls reacted.
“It made the race interesting — that meet has a reputation for being muddy and crazy, so I’m glad my experience lived up to the expectations.”
According to Dammer, while the runners had some opportunities to let loose during the weekend in Oregon, the race was the main attraction.
“I arrived on Wednesday and there were different activities at the course and the Nike World Headquarters,” Dammer said. “I got to run there and meet some pro athletes, which was really cool. Even though there was a lot of excitement, it was still a very race-focused weekend. There were a lot of fun activities planned, but it’s still all about competition because we were ultimately there to see who the fastest runners in the country are.”
Dammer enjoyed seeing some familiar faces and also bonding with the runners she competed against at the regional race.
“There were a lot of people who I’ve met through college visits,” she said. “It was fun to see them and I befriended the kids who were there from the Northeast because we were the closest thing that we had to call a team.”
Reach Robert Tomkavage at 570-704-3941 or on Twitter @rtomkavage.