12/05/06 — 2006 News-Argus Female CC Runner of the Year - Jennifer Price

View Archive

2006 News-Argus Female CC Runner of the Year - Jennifer Price

By Rob Craig
Published in Sports on December 5, 2006 1:47 PM

A top-10 finish at the state meet. Winner of the Wayne County Cross Country Championships. A school-record course time. Now, the 2006 News-Argus Female Cross Country Runner of the Year.

The list of accomplishments for Wayne Christian cross country runner Jennifer Price is impressive, but considering she is only a freshman -- they are astounding.

"Man, that girl can run," said her coach and father, Lee Price describing what the boy runners were saying about his young prodigy back in eighth grade.

Cross country isn't a sport for everyone. Running 3.1 miles for a race and many more in training is different then racing up and down a field or court. It's very individual and challenging.

That aspect had quite a few of Price's schoolmates questioning her decision to compete in the sport.

"People pick on me all the time," said Price. "They think it's stupid and some say running isn't a sport."

Actually, the last comment came from her ex-boyfriend -- which may be one of the reasons he's an "ex."

When Price began running in the seventh grade, her talent instantly came out.

"The first few races, she really surprised me," said coach Price. "Her first year, she cut 10 minutes off her time from start to finish."

The improvement allowed her to compete at the North Carolina Independent 1-A and 2-A Championship meet, which she finished 45th out of 150 runners. Even more impressive was her place among just the 1-A runners, eighth.

In eighth grade, her ability continued to grow as she set a school record with a race time of 22 minutes, eight seconds. At the conclusion of that year, she fought off being sick to still place among the top 30 runners at the state meet.

Price's first year in high school proved to be her most productive as a cross country runner to date.

She broke her previous school record with a time of 22:03 and won her most memorable meet.

Price competed in the sixth-annual Wayne Cross Country Championships in October and dominated the event.

She won by 42 seconds over her closest competitor with a race time of 24:16.

"It felt really good," said Price of her victory. "Since we're a private school, to go out and beat all those public schools that have bigger teams was great. I like running against them and beating them."

Coach Price was equally as happy with his daughter's victory.

"I couldn't have been more proud of her as a coach and especially as a dad," he said. "She was really shooting hard for this and she knows she had some good competition."

The culmination of her efforts was a fifth-place finish at this year's North Carolina Independent 1-A Cross Country Championships at Tanglewood Park in Clemmons with a time of 23:34. The race was difficult for Price as she dealt with terrible course conditions.

"It was really muddy and rainy. It wasn't that good of a time," said Price, who slipped and fell during the race.

It's that mindset of not being content with her performance that has produced high, but realistic expectations for the next three years and beyond.

"I want to get into 21 (minutes) next year," said Price. "I want to win state. That would be amazing."

To reach that goal, the three-sport athlete also competes at basketball and soccer during the offseason to stay in shape. When the summer hits, however, it's back to running.

Price would run an average of 10-12 miles a week during previous summers to build up her stamina and eat a steady diet of bananas, while drinking plenty of Gatorade. Her coach knows that if Price is going to accomplish her ultimate goal of winning state, then the mileage may have to increase this summer.

"I think we'll do more then that this year," said coach Price, looking toward his daughter with a smile.

For now, the father and daughter relish their coach-runner relationship.

"I enjoy it," said coach Price. "It's been a thrill really"

For the most part, Price doesn't mind having her father as the coach.

"I like him being the coach, although sometimes, I wish he wasn't," she said. "He's hard. I'm not scared though to tell him if he's being too hard at times."

As far as after high school, Price would like to continue her running career in college.

"We're hoping, but we'll have to push a little harder for that," said coach Price.

Being just a freshman and having such an enthusiastic attitude could produce big results in the coming years for Price.

"I'm ready for next year to come because I can be even better," she said.