Cross country chose Sara Patterson ’10. When Sara looked at her competitive options in 5th grade there was only one choice: cross country.
“I really enjoyed my first season so I stuck with it and I've been running ever since,” said Patterson.
Sara helped the AOS Dolphins capture three HJPC conference championships in a row, won an SPC championship with the Mavericks and provides inspiration to young runners to this day.
“Sara Patterson worked hard at every practice always giving all she had,” said Head AOS Coach Marti Carr. “Our first race in the Woodlands I remembering saying to myself, ‘is that my little Sara coming down that hill?’”
Her 12-17 miles per week of training in middle school turned into 30-40 MPW in high school. Now in her senior season at Dickinson
College, Patterson logs in 50-70 MPW beginning with a Sunday morning long run of 12-15 miles. On Tuesdays and Thursdays the team runs one- or two-mile hill repeats and speed intervals such as 20 x 400, Patterson’s least favorite workout. Mondays and Wednesdays are maintenance runs and Fridays usually have short three mile run. Saturday is race day.
Sara helped St. John’s win the 2009 SPC Cross country championship; nevertheless, Patterson was eclipsed by the performances of teammate Meredith Gamble. Gamble, the top runner for the Mavericks at the time, also went on to compete in the NCAA for Rice University.
“Sara was a talented runner here,” said St. John’s Head Cross country coach Rachel Fabre. “She was behind Meredith Gamble, but she has blossomed as a collegiate runner.”
“I love the act running and being outside,” said Sara. “I like having the opportunity to test my limits and to train and improve. The team is also a huge reason why I enjoy running so much. I had great training at St. John's and that definitely helped my college career. The strong program here at Dickinson, with the steady increase in mileage and training since freshman year, has prepared me. We support and push each other to run faster and train harder. This season has been tough, but they've been supportive and helped me through some pretty hard training.”
Sara trained really hard this past summer to prepare for her last season in cross country. She was 58th at the D3 Nationals last year and came back as the 35th best returning runner this fall. The team support would end up pulling Sara through an additional challenge earlier this fall. Sara did not realize is that the ferritin level in her blood had been dropping all summer. She thought her sluggishness was related to strenuous runs she did in Colorado, but discovered it was a common issue that could be resolved with simple treatments. She ran her first competitive race on September 28th and posted a great time, coming in tenth. This past weekend Sara ran at the Gettysburg Invitational and finished 2nd in a field of more than 250. She was named the Centennial Conference Cross Country Runner of the Week.
“If you look at the statistics, score, times and all the hard evidence from middle school, Sara would not be the one you would expect to be running so successfully in college,” said Head AOS Coach Marti Carr. “Sara did and continues to embrace all the things we can never measure-her passion, her spirit, her competitive fire, her devoted heart. She is an inspiration for all of our runners to this day.”
Three more competitions are on the horizon for Sara: The Centennial Conference Championships at McDaniel College (November 2nd), the Mideast Regional at Lehigh University (November 16th), and the NCAA D III Championships at Hanover College (November 23rd). All of her coaches from middle school to college will be keeping a watchful eye to their Sara running down that hill one more time, competing in the sport that chose her and that she chose to love.
Sam Chambers- Athletic News