Prep cross-country: Exceeding expectations motivates Herriman's Biles
When Lucy Biles is running well, when she is in the zone, her mind is blank. She doesn't think about the condition of the course or the opponents behind her. Not even about the finish line.
The Herriman junior doesn't give thought to her place in history or her haul of accomplishments just two years into the sport. And certainly not about being the greatest girls' high school runner the state ever has produced.
Though it's out there, too.
"I think that's a possibility, but I don't want to be like, 'I'm going to be the best runner there ever was,'" Biles said shortly after setting the course record (17 minutes, 25 seconds) during Wednesday's meet against Westlake. "I want to have strong state records, and I would love to be the best runner Utah has ever produced.
"If not, I'll still be up there and I'll still get to go to the college I want to go to and get where I want to go."
Biles' name already is attached to five state titles across cross-country and track and field. She posted the fifth-fastest 3-mile time (17:49) on the state cross-country course since records have been kept, dating back to 1998.
Herriman coach James Barnes believes Biles is on pace to be the best girls' high school runner Utah ever has produced.
"She's got the talent, she's got the ability, she's got the tools to be a great runner, but she's also got the attitude," said Barnes, who has coached seven state champions in stints at Herriman, Riverton, Bear River and Provo. "She'll probably break every state record in track and cross-country. By the time she's done, she should be the best all-time runner in Utah."
Oh, was it mentioned that Biles really only started running her freshman year at Herriman? She spent almost five years training and competing in long-track speedskating, but she gave up the sport two years ago because her schedule became too hectic.
Barnes said the key to Biles' meteoric rise has been her work ethic showing up for every training session and putting in the work to get better.
"She's very coachable, she always listens and she actually does what you ask her to do," Barnes said. "What sets her apart is her consistency in her training."
That training led to a Class 4A state title in cross-country in 2012, followed by a fourth-place finish at the Nike Regionals in Oregon and a trip to the Nike Nationals.
She won state titles in the 800 meters, 1,600 meters, 3,200 meters and medley relay, and she owns the school record in each event. Biles ran the 3,200 at nationals in North Carolina but was disappointed by her result.
"I did well at Regionals, but I got to nationals and just tanked," said Biles, who enjoys the 3,200 most. "I think if I do go back, I'll know what to do and I can be like, 'OK, this is a big meet, I know what to do now.'"
With so much already accomplished, it's those few setbacks that motivate Biles this season. That, and a fear of not matching her sensational sophomore season.
"Expectations are really high for me," Biles said. "I feel like if I don't [repeat as state champion] I will be disappointing a lot of people. My team would wonder what's going on, and that would disappoint me a lot."
• Herriman junior Lucy Biles won five state titles last season one in cross-country and four in track and field.
• Biles' time of 17:49.6 on the 3-mile state cross-country course was the fifth-fastest recorded by a girls' runner.
• Biles, a former long-track speed skater, began distance running in 2011.