Going into the fall, the cross country course provided some mystery for Pennridge’s Ashley Gordon.
“I didn’t really know what to expect, as I hadn’t run cross country since my freshman year,” the senior said. “Considering this, I can only look back on the season with a smile on my face.”
Gordon had plenty to smile about.
Said her coach, Bill Smith: “We had high hopes and she did not disappoint.”
Chosen as Athlete of the Year for Girls Cross Country, Gordon was a pack leader all fall and a front runner in a prolific postseason.
“I had a great team and coaching staff supporting me the whole way,” she said. “We just kept making little goals throughout the season, which ultimately landed me in the position to compete for a state medal.”
Gordon raced to the gold at the Suburban One League Colonial Championships, placed fourth in District 1-3A, and earned herself a state medal with an 18th-place finish in Hershey.
“Looking back on the season, winning the conference championship is my favorite accomplishment,” she said. “It was my first league title ever for running, which is something I have been chasing since sophomore year on the track. I felt strong and in control the whole race, so to cross the line in first was really exciting.”
Gordon was just getting her postseason started.
“I was really excited about placing fourth in the district,” she said. “District One is always competitive and the pressure was definitely on this year with less people qualifying for the state meet.
“(States) definitely wasn’t my best race of the season. It was a lot hotter than it had been for a couple weeks and I had never raced on the course before. The morning of the race, my coaches and I were scrambling to preview the course, but only got to see certain sections. I am a competitive person, so I overanalyze and criticize my performance, but I am still very proud of placing 18th in the state.”
Putting together three races like that in successive weeks is quite an accomplishment.
“I thought she had an outstanding season,” Smith said. “As you know, she ran as a freshman but then played soccer her sophomore and junior years. She has been a great track runner, so when she decided she wanted to run in college, she decided to run cross country.
“She has a great work ethic and very is competitive. She strives to be the best. The sky is the limit.”
Gordon heads to Notre Dame next year a confident and decorated runner.
“I truly can not put into words how excited I am for Notre Dame,” she said. “Everything from the track and field program to the school itself feels like a perfect fit. I look forward to all of the new people and experiences I will have next year.”