Like many other days, Lone Peak High junior Eliza Arrington was running late. This time it was for weight training, which starts about 45 minutes before the school bell.
Even though she made it a point to be on time due to a request from her girls’ cross country coach, Country Meldrum, a miscommunication with her ride caused Arrington to miss the weights session entirely.
During track practice after school, Arrington apologized profusely to Meldrum. As “punishment,” Meldrum told Arrington she had to apologize to her entire team, which had gathered in the school’s auditorium, and do it on stage.
That’s when a pair of her teammates surprised Arrington with a banner congratulating her on being named the Gatorade Utah Girls Cross Country Runner of the Year.
“It was insane,” Arrington told The Salt Lake Tribune. “Everybody stood up and cheered. It was so exciting.”
Arrington became the first girls’ cross country runner from Lone Peak to win the award. She also finished first in the 6A state championship meet in October.
Lone Peak was the overall team winner, its first cross country title in school history. It went on to compete on the national level.
“It’s really been a year of firsts for the Lone Peak girls’ team,” Arrington said.
Arrington suffered a stress fracture in her left hip that kept her from competing in all but one race two seasons ago. She said it was difficult to watch her teammates race while she was recovering.
“Just having such a downer year before just made this year all the better,” Arrington said. “It was just such a great experience. It was so much fun.”
Arrington being at full health last season led to her impressive performances, Meldrum said.
“I think she earned it this year,” Meldrum said of Arrington winning the Gatorade award.
Arrington also competes on the school’s track team and runs the 800-, 1,600-, and 3,200-meter races. She just started with the 800 at the end of the last season.