MORGANTOWN, W.Va (WBOY) – In case you were under the impression that Irene Riggs had hit her ceiling, there’s some news for you.
On Saturday, the Morgantown senior ran her way into the history books, beating the rest of the field at Nike cross country nationals by 14 seconds to become national champion.
The entire Morgantown High School student body and distinguished members of the community came together Monday morning to celebrate Riggs and her outstanding accomplishment.
While it may seem difficult to make sure close to 2,000 high school kids keep something a secret, she had no idea what she was in for until athletic director John Bowers stopped her in the hall outside the Rowdie Center.
“Mr. Bowers came and asked if I could do a podcast and I was like ‘okay, I’ve never done a podcast before but, I guess, I don’t know. I guess I’ll do it,’ so I still didn’t think anything of it so we went and did this 20-minute long podcast,” she said. “He took me back to the room and they weren’t in there so I thought, ‘oh, that’s weird,’ but I still didn’t think anything of it until we literally got to the door and everyone was in the gym.”
Even with such a massive accomplishment to her name, this was quite the humbling moment for the now-reigning national champion.
With that little bit of subversion from the people in charge of the festivities, the surprise celebration put into perspective just how much support the Morgantown community has for its star runner.
“I’m definitely really surprised. It’s really honoring and flattering and it makes me proud to be from Morgantown High School, but I was definitely surprised when I walked in,” she said.
With her national champion medal put away safely in Morgantown, Irene Riggs is taking a little bit of downtime these days before beginning her training for her final high school track season.