Lexy Halladay Eyeing Up Her Best Cross Country Season Yet

There's one thing left on Lexy Halladay's bucket list before she closes out her high school cross country career. 

"Every year I go to nationals," she said recently. "And I've never really had a good showing that I'd be proud of. I really want to go there and shock myself." 

Fortunately enough, there's still time for the Meridian Mountain View (ID) High School senior to achieve those hopes. On Saturday, she won her second Bob Firman Invitational title in three seasons, running away from the field en route to a time of 17:31.20, one of four efforts under 18 minutes on a traditionally tough course. 

There's no reason to believe she can't do it.

Halladay has had a wildly successful road throughout her running career thus far, producing three straight state cross country championships in Idaho -- part of nine overall, including track and field -- and three qualifications to national meets like Foot Locker Nationals and Nike Cross Nationals.

There were out-of-state wins at Roy Griak in 2016 and another at the Nike Battle for the 509 in 2018.

But after an All-American finish as a freshman in 2016 at NXN, Halladay has struggled toward the end of her season, finishing 40th at NXN in 2018 and 24th at Foot Locker in 2019. 

Part of her story includes injury -- stress fractures which have limited her time on courses -- but the other is the age-old question for many runners who venture past state lines once the state championships are up: Just how am I compared to athletes across the country? 

Halladay's had time to think about that question over spells of injury.

And her conclusion is that, well, it doesn't really matter. Success isn't about how you compare to others, but how you fit into the lines of your own goals. 

"I don't think I could have done it without my family or my coaches," she said. "You see so many talented girls who, they're really good their freshman year and then, you know, we grow up. Injuries happen. And it's hard running through that. Obviously you're not as fast coming back. Mentally it's draining.

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"And especially my dad and my coach, and my mom and my grandpa, they always text me. My mom will write me little notes. My dad, he always gives me the workout. It's super encouraging to know they believe in me. So why shouldn't I believe in myself if they do? 

There were a few ups and downs in 2018. She lost her first race on Idaho soil at the Class 5A District Championships. She didn't qualify for NXN. And then after a bounce-back performance at Foot Locker West, finishing fourth, she struggled at Balboa Park in San Diego. 

But since then, Halladay has found a crucial balance. Her planning ahead of her final season on grass was to put more emphasis on quality. 

"I feel a lot stronger," she said. "I put a lot more useful miles, not just garbage miles. I did a lot of cross training. Since I did, I ran a way faster time that I had sophomore year. That's a really good measuring stick. I'm super excited. My hard work is paying off."

While Halladay will have to spent a few weekends figuring out where her future lies in college, her goals remain as high as ever. 

She already owns the state record at the Idaho State Cross Country Championships from her 17:08.73 effort from last season. At the time it passed a three-year-old mark on the Eagle Island State Park course. 

If she can finish off her career with another title -- this one coming against NXN qualifier Ashley Lajocies and runners like Rosina Machu -- then she could go down as one of Idaho's best distance runners ever. 

Then come nationals. 

And then, possibly, Halladay's best finish yet. 

"I always think what I could do if I hadn't been injured," she said. "I can't think like that. You have to stay positive and just be grateful for what I can do. For what I've been given, I'm super happy with what I've been able to produce." 

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Contact MileSplit's Cory Mull at cory.mull@flosports.tv or on Twitter @bycorymull.