Saint John's Phillips preparing for first state meet

Nov. 3—Entering her freshman season, Saint John cross country runner Emma Philips knew others may not have high expectations for her.

That did not mean, though, she didn't have them for herself.

Philips is scheduled to run in the Division III girls state cross country championships meet at 10 a.m. Saturday, at Fortress Obetz and Memorial Park in Obetz, which is in the Columbus area.

She qualified by placing ninth at Saturday's rain-soaked regional meet at Boardman with a time of 19:42.

Phillips is the first Saint John runner to compete at a state meet since 2008 when Brittany Dimare qualified.

At the regional meet, Philips time was over half a minute off her personal best time of 19:06, as the weather was obviously a factor.

But, in the postseason, time is not as important as placement.

Phililps is thrilled

to have placed where she did and the opportunity she'll have on Saturday.

"It's really exciting," she said of getting the chance to compete at the state meet. "It really gives me a lot of hope for the future. I have three more years, so there's really no pressure. I'm just a freshman so there's not a lot expected of me, it's going to be a nice experience to have."

Phillips' expectations for her chances at the state meet may have been cautiously optimistic, but Heralds coach Jeremy Dunn was certainly a believer in her chances.

"I definitely envisioned her getting to the state meet this year," Dunn said. "She's just a really talented runner and looking at what she did last year and comparing times to what people

did in previous years from middle school to high school, and her work ethic is


"So I just figured she'd have every opportunity to get to the state meet this year."

What impresses her coach more than anything else is the work Philips is willing to put in to be successful.

"She's really driven," Dunn said. "It takes a special person to become a distance runner and she just has what it takes. She's hungry to improve and she just wants to succeed at the highest level for herself, and she'll do just about anything to get to that point."

Phillips' drive is a combination of just enjoying the activity combined with her extreme competitiveness.

"I just really love to run, I love to stay in shape, I like to be active," she said. "I also really love the competitive part of it, too. I'm just a competitive person, I guess."

How competitive

Phillips will be at the state meet is something she said she's not sure.

But Phillips also knows there's no reason to feel any pressure.

"I'm not super nervous, I know I'm not going to be the top runner at the race," she said. "There won't be as much pressure as there was at the regional meet because I don't have to qualify for anything, I've already made it.

"I really hope I'm in the top 30 and I hope I can stay consistent with the times that I've been running."