Meridian cross country has a chance on Saturday, Nov. 3, to do something it's never done before - bring home a pair of trophies from the Class 1A State Championships in Pasco.
"We have some great opportunities for both our boys' and girls' teams this week," coach Michael Holz said in an email.
Needless to say, the Trojans have never had a pair of teams quite like this before.
And then again, they've never had a freshman quite like Mimi Meggison, either.
Perhaps no runner in Meridian history has come to the school with such a high pedigree as Meggison, who started running in seventh grade when her mom asked her to try out for a sport when she went to a new school so that she could meet people.
"I didn't know how good a runner I was going to be until the last cross country race that year," Meggison said in a phone interview. "I almost got first, but I finished second, but Peter (Oviatt) saw something in me and talked me into joining Whatcom Tesseract (a local youth running club)."
It wasn't long until she was hooked.
"People say you get a runner's high," Meggison said. "I feel so weird now if I miss even one day of practice. Once you do it and you're good at it and you like it, you simply can't stop. It's kind of addicting."
As she's gotten more and more addicted to running, Meggison has blossomed in the sport.
So much so that she ended up going to the USATF National Junior Olympic Championships three times in track and field and cross country.
At the 2011 cross country championships last December at Myrtle Beach, S.C., Meggison ended up placing seventh in the nation in her age group with a time of 14 minutes, 27.76 seconds in a 4-kilometer race.
"I was really excited," Meggison said of the experience. "I knew I had a good shot to get All-American, but I never even thought about placing that high. I tried not to think about it that much. It was a fast course. It was kind of neat to think I was from this little community, and I was competing against all these runners from all over the country and I was able to do great."
She hasn't stopped doing great since she joined the Trojans this year, either.
Two weeks ago she finished second at the Northwest Conference Championships with a time of 18:40.29, which is the state's third-fastest 5,000-meter time in Class 1A this year.
A week later she finished fourth at the 1A tri-district meet, and more importantly, helped the Trojans win the team title to qualify for state.
"Mimi has come in with an amazing background," Holz said. "Her experiences with the Tesseract club and placing seventh at the junior cross country Olympics last fall have prepared her well for high school competition."
On top of that, Holz said, Meggison has "great competitive spirit and drive."
All of that, plus her "positive and upbeat attitude" have helped her fit right in with the rest of the Trojans.
"I'm so happy I get to go to state with this team," Meggison said. "We really work together and support each other well. We work as a team so well. If somebody is hurting or just isn't feeling so good in a race, the rest of us are there to pick them up."
Not that she or her teammates have needed all that much picking up.
"We're very solid on the girls' side," Holz said. "There are many reasons why, and Mimi is one, but I think each of our top five girls has their own story."
Senior Jayna Edmonds, who finished 13th last week at tri-district (20:23.8), is the first girl in school history to qualify for state all four years.
Senior Sydney Gray, who was 15th at tri-district (20:26.3), developed a stress fracture in August, and was forced to cross train for six weeks by getting up at 5:30 a.m. for water running at Arne Hanna Aquatic Center and then bike for an hour in the afternoon just to be able to come back at a high level.
Junior McKenzie Roque, who was 20th at tri-district (20:39.8), didn't join until this year and obviously has been turning in some top times.
"Four girls in the top 20 at a meet like tri-district, that is pretty amazing," Meggison said. "There are a lot of talented runners on this team."
But a team needs a strong fifth, and that has been senior Arissa Alvarez (58th in 22:36.8 at tri-district), who dropped nearly 51/2 minutes off her time at the NWC Championships from a year ago.
"Arissa Alvarez has been nothing short of amazing," Holz said. "She has trained the entire year for the opportunity to compete at the state meet. Now, not only is she going to be running at the state meet, but she is going to play an important role in helping us reach our goal: placing in the top four at the state championships and bringing home a state trophy."
And don't forget about the boys' team, which placed third at tri-district led by ninth- and 10th-place finishes from Kelby Todd and Collin Magnusson. With runners like them and 13th-place David Anderson, Meridian has a realistic shot to win its boys' first state trophy in the program's history.
"I really hope we can win state this year," Meggison said. "It would be awesome if we could do it on both the boys' and girls' side. I'm so excited. I went last year just to watch, and now I get to be a part of it."
With her previous experience in big meets, neither Meggison nor Holz expect her to get overwhelmed by the experience of running in her first state meet, either.
"She has been in large meets through Junior Olympics, and she knows the physical and mental preparation she needs to be successful," Holz said. "She needs to rely on her training, focus on what has gotten her to this point and race with fiery passion this weekend."
Meggison said she isn't "scared" by the large crowds expected to be on hand for the state meet.
Her only concern is running against girls that are older than her, unlike in the Junior Olympics, where competitors are no more than one year older.
But with the support of her teammates, Meggison said she is confident she can handle it.
"I just love being a part of this team," Meggison said. "The girls are all so supportive of each other. It would be really special to win state with them and to have the boys' team do that, too. Everybody knows they just need to do well as a team and lean on each other."
Reach David Rasbach at email@example.com or 360-715-2286.
STATE CROSS COUNTRY
When: Saturday, Nov. 3
Site: Sun Willows Golf Course, Pasco
Class 1A girls: 10:30 a.m.
Class 2A girls: 11 a.m.
Class 1A boys: Noon
Class 2A boys: 1:30 p.m.
Class 3A boys: 2 p.m.
COUNTY 1A GIRLS' STATE QUALIFIERS
Runner Yr. Qual. Time School
Mimi Meggison Fr. 19:19.6 Meridian
Rachael Hatcher Sr. 19:56.3 Mt. Baker
Jayna Edmonds Sr. 20:23.8 Meridian
Kelsie Nern Jr. 20:24.5 Mt. Baker
Sydney Gray Sr. 20:26.3 Meridian
Marissa Hielkema Jr. 20:31.7 Lynden Christian
McKenzie Roque Jr. 20:39.8 Meridian
Amy Murphy Fr. 20:50.3 Nooksack Valley
McKenzie Young So. 21:16.5 Lynden Christian
Sarah Ball Fr. 21:26.3 Lynden Christian
Brianna Rutgers So. 21:30.5 Lynden Christian
Julia Morris So. 21:41.7 Lynden Christian
Arissa Alvarez Sr. 22:36.8 Meridian
Ally Visser Fr. 22:38.1 Lynden Christian
Tiana Pratt So. 22:58.2 Meridian
Emily Visser Sr. 23:41.8 Lynden Christian
Katie Edmonds So. 23:54.6 Meridian
NOTE: Lynden Christian and Meridian qualified as teams. Lineups subject to change.
Reach DAVID RASBACH at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 715-2271.