For The Record: Reagan Riley Is Ready For One Final XC Race

* MileSplit's Cory Mull caught up with Mountain Brook standout Reagan Riley this week ahead of the Garmin RunningLane Championships

By Cory Mull - MileSplit

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HUNTSVILLE, AL -- All things happen for a reason. Mountain Brook (AL) senior Reagan Riley certainly knows that. 

So when it comes to high school cross country, or perhaps high school athletics all together?

She's come to a realization. 

"I don't run with a lot of pressure or fear because I know in the end this isn't about me," Riley said recently. "This isn't the end-all-be-all for me." 

To put that into context, Riley is talking about her faith. In general, it's steered her in the right direction, whether she's had a good result or a less than perfect one.  

Take last week, for instance. The future Notre Dame athlete was on pace to secure a bid to Champs Sports Nationals in Charlotte, North Carolina. She found herself in sixth-place midway through the South Regional.

And then she fell. 

"I can't control things that happen," she said. "But obviously, it's a little heartbreaking." 

She sunk to 13th and missed an automatic berth by just three places. 

But again, Riley knows that the result was only a moment in time. That blip taught her about perseverance. 

"I'm feeling pretty confident going into it. I know my abilities. I've had some good workouts leading into it." 

She sometimes thinks back to her sophomore year, during her most difficult year in high school, when she had surgery on her hip and was forced out of her cross country season. 

"I had to learn what it really meant to fight back and work hard and not give up," she said, "because I had multiple opportunities to give up, to give into what people were saying, or to how I was feeling. I chose to keep working. And that's something I think is invaluable. I learned so much through my injury. Even about my relationship with Christ, it grew tremendously. I learned I wasn't just a runner. That wasn't my whole identity." 

On Saturday, Riley, a two-time Alabama state cross country champion, has one more race left in her high school cross country career, and it will come two hours north in Huntsville, Alabama.

Securing her spot in the gold championship race, Riley could potentially end her year on a win at the Garmin RunningLane Cross Country Championships. 

"I feel like I definitely have an edge on everyone, because I have raced this course three times," she said. "And all three times have been different races for me." 

It's true, Riley's personal best for 5K has come at John Hunt Park. She finished 21st at last year's race, clocking a time of 17:00.30. And so, it's safe to say, she's ready to go.

"I'm feeling pretty confident going into it," she said. "I know my abilities. I've had some good workouts leading into it." 

But again, win or lose, it won't be everything for Riley. 

No matter the result, everything happens for a reason. 



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