MORGANTOWN, W.Va – The word dominance should not be taken lightly in sports, but in certain cases, there is no better way to describe how thoroughly an athlete outdoes their competition.
‘Dominance’ is, without doubt, a fair description of Irene Riggs’ performance at Saturday’s state cross country meet, and what she’s done on the course for the last four years.
With a 5K time of 16:32, Riggs set the state meet record by 44 seconds and outran the rest of the field by over two minutes.
When she pulled into the final stretch, she knew her third consecutive individual state championship was in the bag, but the numbers on the timer were a different story.
“I was kind of shocked when I was coming around the curve and I saw the time. I think I was just so focused. I really knew I wanted the state record and I was so focused on getting the state record that I ended up running pretty fast, but I was a little shocked and obviously super excited and kind of relieved too,” she said.
While her display of running prowess on Saturday was expected entering the season, it was not exactly smooth sailing for Riggs throughout the fall.
A freak accident where her foot was run over by a car put her on the shelf for part of the season, but that hurdle just made her an even stronger competitor when she returned.
“The hardest part was mentally just because it was so out of my control. It just was such a freak accident, so once I was able to mentally just accept where I was then I was able to just find ways to make the best of the situation and keep training,” she said.
You might that with her college decision already made—she’ll head to the west coast to run at Stanford next fall—and the mid-season injury that Riggs might be ready to leave high school cross country in the past, but with all the memories she’s made in the last four years, that’s not something she wants to do.
“My past four years of cross country have been super fun. Obviously, it’s something that means a lot to me to have the state title with my team four years in a row, so that’s something that’s really special, and obviously, this past season was a lot of fun setting the state record,” she said.
Armed with three individual cross-country championships and four team titles, Irene Riggs now looks to lead Morgantown to a second straight girls track state championship this spring.