Interview with McDonnell after winning the 4A West Regional title
This Saturday at McAlpine Hough's Alexis McDonnell entered the NCHSAA 4A West Regional ranked 2nd with hopes to win. Once the girls came through the mile is was McDonnell all by herself well ahead of 2nd & 3rd place Sarah Parrish and Anna Petr. The race continued and McDonnell didn't give an inch, and only continued to improve her lead crossing in 18:43 matching her PR. McDonnell was 35 seconds ahead of 2nd place. Though she wasn't happy with only getting a less than a second PR, the individual performance was extremely impressive.
Watch Alexis McDonnell dominate the NCHSAA 4A West Regional in 18:43
The road to being one of North Carolina's elite cross country runners has been one of the most drastic improvements over three years that I've seen. McDonnell's first race was the Luminary run her freshman year where she ran 27:42. A month later she raced again at the Greensboro Invitational where she took 173rd overall clocking 29:56. McDonnell did improve to a 25:07 at the end of the year, still significantly not close to the elite status.
As a sophomore McDonnell had improved significantly after continuing to run through the track season. She ran in the 20 minute range in six of her seven races and eventually took 11th at the 4A West regional running 20:14, though she says she was hurt and didn't get to race at states the following week. On the track her breakout continued. She placed 7th at the NCHSAA Indoor 3200 and 6th in the NCHSAA Outdoor 3200 running a PR of 11:17.
As a junior in her 5 invitational races McDonnell has clocked a consistent range of times from 18:43 to 18:52. This is not a normal breakout and should be an inspiration with all runners hoping to be at the top of the state one day, even if it might not seem realistic. McDonnell says she joined cross country with a friend as something she could put on her college application. The thought that'd she be this good in a relatively short amount of time with likely non-existent, especially after those first couple races.
So if you're hoping that all this training is paying off and that someday you could be a star runner, these type of breakouts happen.