When Olivia Gettle was gutting it out at the final stretch of the PIAA District 3 meet, she heard one voice in her head.
One that belonged to her teacher.
Gettle had to leave school in the middle of her English class to go to the meet. When she asked her teacher, Rich Peterson, for her assignment, he just told her to run hard.
"When I was coming down that last stretch at districts, I heard him in my mind say 'run hard,' and I caught up to a Palmyra girl," said Gettle.
Gettle finished in 20:08, just four seconds out of second place after she stumbled twice in the final 200 yards.
But she got up and kept running. Gettle out-kicked Palmyra senior Olivia Farabaugh by one second.
"I dedicated that race to him. He really pushed me to do better," the freshman Gettle said.
Voted the Girls' Cross Country Runner of the Year by YAIAA coaches, here's what else Gettle had to say about that day and more:
What's on your iPod when you run? What music do you like to listen to?
Just pop music. When I run I clear my mind. It just gives me a break from schoolwork and stuff.
What do you want to be when you grow up?
I want to be a scientist or go into the movie-making business.
I like chemistry; I like to mix all the chemicals and the periodic table.
In eighth grade we did announcements on the TV and I would go on for my sport. I thought that was so cool to be in front of the camera. So over the summer I've been making movies. We made basketball movies, of dunking and stuff, and we made an "Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader?" kind of game.
What's your favorite thing to do on a cold or dreary day?
I like Minecraft a lot. It's on the computer or iPhone. It's with blocks. My brother (Harrison) got me hooked on it. He's in 5th grade. So that's one of the things that my brother and I do together.
What is your favorite time of year?
I like summer. I'm really an outdoors person. I like to go outside and play kickball, basketball, swim. I like to play Ripstik.
(Ripstik is a board with two wheels, similar to a skateboard but with more versatile wheels).
Do you have any pets? What kind and what are their names?
We had a goldfish. I won him at the St. Joseph's carnival. His name was Willy, and he lived for three years. That's pretty long for a goldfish.
What is your favorite food?
I like pasta, pizza and wings. I get wings every Friday--really hot wings. All spicy foods.
What subjects do you like in school?
Science and math would be my favorite. I like science because chemistry is kind of like math, too. I just think that for math you always have an answer. Like, with history, you're always unsure of the past. You don't know if that's how it really happened. Math, you always know what the answer is. Science involves math. I think science is cool because you learn about stuff and how things work.
Do you have a favorite teacher?
I like Mr. Peterson. He teaches English. He wants us to do better even after we're done being his students.
Mrs. Gentzel; she teaches science. I created a scrapbook for cross country season, and she would always give me newspapers with my articles in them so I can put them in the scrapbook.
And Mr. Toren -- he teaches video communications. And he also says good luck to me before the meets. He's also part of what I want to be when I grow up.
If you could travel to anywhere in the world, where would you want to go?
Probably somewhere like the Bahamas, maybe. It's really relaxing there -- I've never been there but I heard some goods stories from there coming from my grandparents.
What's one thing that you would want people to know about you?
I always push myself to do the best that I can. Not just because other people tell me that I need to do that; I do it for myself. I'm self-driven and self-determined. I want to do better because it will help me in the long run.
I think that's what the problem is with how America is today. You need to have the self-determination to just go out and do something. Just do it.