Running with the big dogs: Pilkton eyes state meet

Published 7:14 pm Thursday, November 1, 2018

It has been a season of goals for Elizabethton senior Lauren Pilkton.

And during this past Region 1 Larger School Meet at Daniel Boone, Pilkton marked off all of them.

With a school record-setting time of 19:55.20, Pilkton took sixth place and earned herself a ticket to the TSSAA Larger School State Meet this Saturday at Percy Warner Park in Nashville.

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As a freshman and sophomore, Pilkton went to the state meet with the Lady Cyclones as part of the team. This year, however, she is going as an individual and qualified in a Region that includes teams like Science Hill and Dobyns-Bennett.

“This is a huge thing because my junior year I didn’t make it,” said Pilkton. “I tried my hardest but just couldn’t make it. I vowed to myself I was going to make it my senior year, and I did it. It is a really big milestone for me.”

Pilkton said that going up against the bigger schools was nerve-racking.

“It was definitely intimidating,” she said. You had like teams of like eight or nine beside you and had me and Shian right beside them. It was like staring down big dogs, but we were able to go out and run with them. My strategy was to just get out fast and try to get top ten.”

For Pilkton, she had three goals this season—go to state, get inside 20 minutes, and set the school record. She did all three during the region meet. The senior, however, said she isn’t done.

“I just thought it was awesome, but now that I have those, I am looking ahead,” said Pilkton. “I am trying to place high at state. I am always trying set goals and reach higher.”

EHS head cross country coach Mark Newman said that he is proud of Pilkton for her accomplishment.

“It is just unbelievable if you ask me,” said Newman. “It is a big accomplishment. This was a goal that we set out, and she did it. It is huge to go from competing with the smaller schools to now competing with the large schools. Last year, was a culture shock. This year, we knew what we needed to do.

“We trained and trained,” added Newman. “I even had her running with the guys.”

Newman said that Pilkton has the fight to win, and that is what makes her such a great runner.

“She is tough,” said Newman. “She will be in pain but will fight through. She has the ability to shut out the want to quit when it comes along.”