Collins High School sophomore Gabriella Karas finished in ninth place in Saturday’s Foot Locker Cross Country Nationals at Balboa Park in San Diego.
Karas finished with a time of 17 minutes, 56 seconds, which was 43 seconds behind winner Anna Rohrer of Mishawaka (Ind.). Grant Fisher of Grand Blanc (Mich.) won the boys’ race in 15:03.
Karas said she took a different strategy to the race this year after finishing 25th last year.
“Last year I started a little too fast, so this year I started out slow and focused on the second lap because the course is just the same thing twice,” she said. “It worked in my favor today to start out slower.”
According to KYTrackXC.com, Karas’ finish is the best by a Kentucky female in the event since Donna Combs placed fourth in 1984.
Karas said her goal Saturday was to finish in the top 15.
“I also wanted to help my South team win the team title, which we did, so I got everything I wanted today,” Karas said. “I’m just thankful and grateful.”
Karas said she plans to attempt to compete in the meet as a junior and a senior. Asked if she dreams of winning the meet, she said, “Maybe my senior year. I’m not sure. It would be pretty amazing if I ever did, but I don’t know if I have that kind of ability.”
Karas has won four straight Class 2-A state championships, going back to her seventh-grade season.