Shelby Lowder showed up for cross-country practice at West Forsyth this past summer with some lofty expectations.
So far, she’s exceeding them.
Lowder, a 14-year-old freshman, is among the top runners for the Titans, who won the Central Piedmont 4-A championship meet in a literal runaway last Wednesday.
“She has really panned out,” said Nathan Newsome, who coaches West Forsyth’s girls cross- country team. “She has been as good as, and probably better than we thought she’d be.”
Lowder was among the top distance runners in the city/county middle schools’ track meet as an eighth-grader, and she’s a top-flight soccer player who expects to play next spring after cross country and indoor track.
“I started playing soccer when I was 5. It was my first love,” Lowder said. “I play wing; my strong point is running. I have a couple of real surges in me every game. Running has made me a better soccer player.”
Newsome said Lowder almost immediately responded to the Titans’ training program, but she’s held her back a little bit because of her multi-sport participation.
“She has a real high-end ceiling,” Newsome said. “I think we’ve been a little conservative with her training due to her playing multiple sports, but she’s absolutely as tough as nails.
“She came to us as a somewhat experienced runner, but she showed potential as soon as she got with us. When we got her in training with girls of the same ability level, she took off.”
At Jefferson, Lowder’s personal record in the mile was 5:50; she’s already destroyed that, even though the Titans compete at the 5K (3.1-mile) distance.
“My (personal record) is 19:42. I got that about two weeks ago,” she said. “I’ve already beaten all my other PR’s. Since then, I haven’t had an exact goal; I guess going 19:20 would be my goal for the rest of the season. My times have been going consistently downhill all season.”
Lowder finished seventh individually for the Titans in the CPC championship. She has the Class 4-A regional on Saturday and state championship meet next Saturday left.
“My whole family runs — road races, 5Ks,” she said. “I ran them just for fun. Running really comes naturally for me, but I still have to work very hard. I started competing in the seventh grade.”
Lowder, who said she’s been dealing with nagging injuries this fall, understands how much being able to run with some of the state’s best runners every day has helped.
“We really work together to stay on task,” she said. “When we work together, we stay together in workouts, and I can keep up to a point. I think we can win the state championship. I think we can do it.”