Two Owen High School’s strongest runners represented the school during the state championship cross country meet in Kernersville Nov. 7.
Senior Garret Welsh finished his high school career with an impressive showing during the boys race. And Hannah Feinsilber capped off a junior season by returning to the form that brought her notoriety as a freshman.
Despite wet conditions at the Ivey Redmon Sports Complex, Welsh finished the 5K race with a time of 17:58 minutes. His effort was good enough to finish 27th among 137 competitors.
“It felt amazing to finish the race,” Welsh said. “I accomplished what I wanted to do.”
Running in the state championship was a goal Welsh set for himself at the outset of the season, the last of a high school career that saw steady improvement during his time as a Warhorse. He achieved his goal on the heels of a seventh-place finish in the regional meet days prior to his showing in Kernersville.
Longtime Owen cross country coach Joe Hyder said that Welsh remained dedicated to improving his times throughout the season.
“You can tell when the kids keep themselves in shape, especially as the season goes on,” Hyder said. “Garret was putting in 50-60 miles per week.”
Welsh, who originally began running in the eighth grade, said that he ran every day while preparing for his senior season on the team. “Sometimes I will run two times a day if I have the time,” he said.
Feinsilber, Hyder said, is an “endurance animal.”
“She would come to practice, run, and then ride her bike home,” he said.
As a freshman, Feinsilber recorded the seventh-best time in the history of the girls team - 20:49.
After a sophomore season that failed to meet her expectations, Feinsilber made nutritional changes, including eliminating sugar from her diet. She credits the healthier lifestyle with helping her bounce back as a junior.
“I felt more energy when I was running,” she said. “When you hit that second mile, you don’t feel worn out when you have run through your sugar reserves. You also feel sharper mentally, so you can focus on what you need to do.”
Feinsilber, who as the school year approached was unsure whether she would participate in cross country, began noticing improvements in her times near the middle of the season.
“I’m so glad I decided to run this year,” she said. “We had a great team with a lot of competitive runners that worked really hard. We were a close group.”
Her time of 21:29 in the state meet impressed Hyder, who pointed out that the wet conditions were less than ideal and exacerbated by boys’ meet held before Feinsilber ran.
“I think she could have been close to her all-time best if she had been running in better conditions,” Hyder said. “The course was pretty chewed up by the time she ran, and that was pretty challenging.”
Hyder believes that Feinsilber can break the 20-minute mark. Feinsilber’s personal goal is bigger.
“My main goal is to break the school record of 19:18,” she said.