(Nov. 8, 2019) Stephen Decatur junior Mary Mergott will represent the school and the cross country program as she competes in the 3A state championship meet, this Saturday at Hereford High School in Parkton, Maryland.
“I’m really excited. It’s just exciting to be able to hopefully represent the team well,” she said.
Mergott qualified for the state championship because of her performance during the Oct. 31 3A South Region meet at Oak Ridge Park in Hughesville, Maryland.
She finished in 16th place overall, completing the race in 21:54.3.
“I started extremely fast and did the first 600 faster than usual, then kind of did the first mile slower than I would have liked to,” she said. “Once I got in the woods I made up a little time and I think I past a few girls.
“At [the Bayside Conference championship], I made the mistake of waiting too long to kick, so I made sure at regionals once I got to the 600 mark at the end I started my kick a lot earlier.”
Mergott’s goal was to place top 15 at regionals to advance to states, but her top-16 finish ended up qualifying her for the championship meet.
“Even though it wasn’t my goal placement I can’t complain because I’m going to states and that’s the ultimate goal this year,” she said.
Mergott was the only Decatur runner, male or female, to advance to states. As a team, the Lady Seahawks came in seventh overall. The boys’ squad placed eighth.
“Everyone ran basically about what I expected,” Decatur Coach Jody Stigler said. “I knew we were going against some strong competition and teams that we do not normally go against. I also find that we usually do not have our best performances after a 3.5-hour bus ride, so that is always a factor in going up there as well.”
Mergott is both excited and nervous to compete in the state meet.
She has run the course before, so that will help her prepare for states. Mergott said she will go over the course in her head and plan out the best strategy.
“I want to start fast, because it’s mostly flat, so I just want to take advantage of that,” she said. “There’s a long downhill stretch at the end and I want to start accelerating more there, whereas last time I used it as a rest spot. I want to start using it to make up some ground and maybe pass a few people.”
Her goal is to finish the race in under 22 minutes and place in the top 50.
“This is my last meet and I just want my last meet to be strong and good all-around,” she said.
“I think that Mary improved tremendously throughout the season. She has worked very hard and it has paid off for her in the championship meets,” Stigler added. “It was an accomplishment for her to qualify for the state meet. I think her goal should just be to run her best and see what happens. The competition will obviously be tough, but it will be good for her to get used to that level of competition.”