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Cedar Park freshman Innis long on potential

Brom Hoban, Central Texas Running

Staff Writer
Austin 360
Britanny Innis helped Cedar Park to seventh place at state meet.

In a high school cross country program that has produced all-state runners and enjoyed a national reputation for success and quality running, she has been a surprise.

It started in the mid-August heat.

At 14, she lined up with uniformly older more experienced cross country runners from Cedar Park, Rouse and Vandegrift high schools. The challenge was a straight forward mile-and-a-half time trial.

And she blew the doors off.

"We were all surprised," said cross-country coach Timo Sheard of freshman Brittany Innis.

"Brittany just outran the older girls from Cedar Park, Vandegrift, and Rouse. She's held the top spot on our cross-country team ever since."

Sheard, who has a reputation for finding and developing outstanding runners at Cedar Park, says Innis may be one of the best yet.

"She can handle the opening pace, and then just closes really well," says Sheard. "She can just keep going in that final stretch, whether it's a quarter mile, a half or whatever."

In other words, she's a closer.

"Brittany is a surprise," says senior Allison Boykin, the Timberwolves co-captain. "I think her potential is very, very good. She's running a lot faster than I did as a freshman, and she keeps lowering her times."

At the District 25-4A meet at Old Settlers Park in Round Rock, Innis ran the two-mile course in 11 minutes, 47.9 seconds. Altogether four Timberwolves runners finished in the top 10 to win as a team.

"It was really tough," Innis said. "I didn't know what I was going into because it was my first big race. But heading into the last 800 meters, I got a second wind and ran my heart out. I was in second place, and then I passed the leader. I thought she might catch me, so I just ran for it. At that point, something in me made me try my hardest."

"Since I've been coaching at Cedar Park, Brittany's the first freshman girl to win district," said Sheard.

She wasn't done. At the Region IV 4A Championships in San Antonio earlier this month, Innis ran a personal best of 11:16 to take second in the two-mile race, and again helped the Timberwolves team to victory.

Then, last Saturday at the UIL 4A Cross Country State Championships in Round Rock, Innis ran 11:29 to finish ninth in state and helped her team finish seventh.

The Cedar Park boys won the state 4A title.

"The competition was really tough at state," said Innis. "I ran the first mile in 5:36, and that may have been too fast."

Innis' goals now are fairly modest. "I'm just trying to get better every race," she said. "I hope to bring my two-mile time down to under 11 minutes, and set some new personal bests."

And that's fine by coach Sheard. "I expect Brittany to keep getting stronger, as long as she can keep her training up and stay healthy," he said.

Notes: Meb Keflezighi, 2004 Olympic marathon silver medalist and 2009 ING New York City Marathon champion, will be at Luke's Locker (115 Sandra Muraida Drive) today from 2-4 p.m. for a signing of his book "Run to Overcome."

Keith Pierce was the first Austin-area finisher at Sunday's Rock `n' Roll San Antonio Marathon, placing third overall in 2:23:15, while Sabine Bildstein was the top Austin woman with a fifth-place finish in 2:58:11.

Scott MacPherson won the accompanying half marathon in 1:04:26, and Allison Macsas took second in the women's race in 1:16:04.

Upcoming races

Saturday

• Leo Manzano 5K Classic, 8 a.m. in Marble Falls. See www.runtex.com .

• Thankful Turkey 5K, 8 a.m. at River Ridge Business Park, San Marcos. See www.runtex.com .

• Vern's No Frills 5k - Race #20, 8 a.m. at Berry Springs Park & Preserve, Georgetown. See www.runtex.com .

• The Dirty Du Half Marathon and 5K, 9 and 9:30 a.m. at Rocky Hill Ranch, Smithville. See www.dirtydu.com .