Taryn Parks' showing in middle school made her a highly anticipated runner entering the Greencaste-Antrim track and cross country programs. And Saturday, the freshman lived up to the hype, not only winning her first big high school invitational, but blowing the competition out of the water.
Parks crossed the finish line of the Bulldog Invitational on Saturday with perfect posture, and a top finishing speed that made it look as though she just finished a Sunday jog in the park, rather than winning the girls 2A race by more than 10 seconds.
Parks is the P.O. Female Athlete of the Week.
"She did a great job; she went straight to the front and pushed the pace," Greencastle coach Rich Secrest said. "She was challenged most of the way, but gapped (Maddie McLain, Eastern York) in the last mile or so."
"Right before the turn before the final straightaway, I heard someone yell, 'Good job,' so I kind of knew where I was," Parks said. "I wasn't worried about where she was behind me, I just knew I had to finish fast."
To add to her pedigree, Parks also won the Enos Yeager in the first cross country event of the season - in that race, beating her teammate Lauren Hirneisen by more than 20 seconds.
And with her first big invitational out of the way, and a pair of high school victories under her belt, Parks is looking forward to the highly competitive Carlisle Invitational scheduled for Saturday, where she is bound to see some tough competition.
"I'm excited, but a bit nervous, too," Parks said. "I enjoy having someone beating me, then trying to out kick them at the end."
"She's not new to the pressure or to big stages," Secrest said. "She cherishes the entire process and we admire that. She's not afraid to set the pace and she wants to go out there and compete. She's not intimidated by anything."
Taryn Parks, Greencastle-Antrim
Sport: Cross country
Parents: Amber and Trevor Parks
Other interests: Parks ran track for the Greencastle middle school, and plans to run track for the high school in the spring.
Favorite team: Baltimore Orioles
Athletic inspiration: Parks said, "My mom really pushes me to do my best and inspires me to keep working hard and try to improve."
Surprising fact: Parks competed in the 800 at the USA Hershey Youth Track & Field Championships as a seventh grader, and currently holds the G-A high school stadium record in the 1,600 with a time of 5:05. She broke that record as an eighth grader.
Statistics: Parks, a freshman, won the 2A girls race in the Bulldog Invitational for her first big high school invitational win. She crossed the line more than 10 seconds before the next female finisher, Maddie McLain of Eastern York.