Kate Mowrey did not run her fastest time at the Hershey Parkview Cross Country Course during the District 3 Class A Championship.
It is, however, the race that she marks has her most memorable.
The Delone Catholic High freshman won the district title in runaway fashion with a time of 20 minutes, 54 seconds, winning by eight seconds over second-place finisher Kaitlyn Beckham from Fairfield.
Mowrey's time was almost a minute slower her time of 19:57, the best time she had all season, in a meet earlier in the year.
In addition to her own individual title, Delone also captured the district's Class A team title, clinching a berth to the PIAA Championships.
"It was the happiest moment of the year for me," Mowrey said. "If the whole team didn't make it, then it would have just been two girls and one boy at practice and it wouldn't have been as exciting.
"I don't know when our next opportunity to go to states will be, so it was important for me to have the other girls experience it as well."
The district title was one many highlights for Mowrey this season. She also won the Diocesan Invitational, her first high school race, with a time of 20:25.
"That first race was kind of a shock," she said. "I was hoping to do well. That was my goal. I started out first and was like, 'Where is everybody?'. I was wondering if I started out too fast, and I started played a head game with myself because I wasn't expecting to do that well. I decided I might as well keep going hard and see what happens."
That was the beginning of a very memorable season for Mowrey. The humble freshman runner prefers to talk more about how the Squirettes clinched the YAIAA Division III title, their first ever, rather than her own accolades.
"I remember that race like it was yesterday," Mowrey said. "We were so pumped up for it. I came in and then Sarah came in. Our coach had told us that it wasn't going to be the first and second runners that make the difference. It will be the third, fourth and fifth runners, and we pumped each other up and they stepped up. We were so happy. I think it really opened our eyes to show us that we had a chance to win districts now."
For her outstanding season, Mowrey has been named All-Area Girls' Cross Country Runner of the Year.
As a freshman, Mowrey did not know what to expect coming into the season but she knew that, in the five-kilometer races that she had run over the summer, her times put her on the right pace.
"I knew with my times that I had a good chance at making it to districts," she said. "My goal was to make it to states. At the time I had no clue what to do to make it there and was asking my coaches if it was a reasonable goal. They told me they would be shocked if I didn't, and it just worked out."
At the state meet, Mowrey did not finish as well as she would have liked, coming in 52nd place with a time of 21:18.
"The whole season was full of different emotions," Mowrey said. "Looking back on it all, I am really happy. I didn't do as good as I wanted to in states, which is good because it really motivates me to do better next year."
Part of that motivation translates into hard offseason workouts. Once cross country ended, Mowrey dove right into the pool for swimming. Once swim season is over, she will train just as she did last year, working her way up to 25 miles per week and also throwing in some 800- and 400-meter dash workouts, a training regimen Mowrey says is fun.
"Some people talk about how much they hate running, but I love it," she said. "I don't know why, but I love it. It is just so much fun. I love the feeling of winning and getting a good time."
It is a feeling she enjoyed a lot as a freshman.
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