Nation’s top girl’s distance runner aspires for Foot Locker Cross Country national title

Nation’s top girl’s distance runner aspires for Foot Locker Cross Country national title

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Nation’s top girl’s distance runner aspires for Foot Locker Cross Country national title

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Ravenscroft School (Raleigh, N.C.) senior Ryen Frazier will contend for the girl’s national title in her first appearance at the Foot Locker Cross Country Championship finals on Dec. 13. | Photo courtesy of Tammy Palmer

Ravenscroft School (Raleigh, N.C.) senior Ryen Frazier. | Photo courtesy of Tammy Palmer

The pipe dream has arrived again as another Frazier prepares to step up to the starting line at the Foot Locker Cross Country Championship finals. Ryen Frazier, a senior at Ravenscroft School (Raleigh, N.C.), will contend for the girl’s title in her first appearance at the national meet, on Dec. 13.

The mark twice slipped away from her older sister Wesley Frazier, now a sophomore at Duke, who finished 10th as a freshman and 39th as a sophomore.

“Everyone would always call Lesley ‘greatness’ and Ryen would be ‘little greatness’,” said Ravenscroft senior Kathleen Brandes, who competes on the track team. “She’s been compared to Lesley a lot.”

Drawn to the sport through her older sister, the two had a close relationship growing up. Their father, Timothy Frazier, would often tell his daughters not to compare themselves to each other.

“I like to be ‘Wesley’s little sister’, but I also want to prove myself,” said Frazier, who became the first girl in North Carolina to run sub-17 minutes at the Three Stripe Red-Shirt Invitational in November. Coincidentally, Frazier replaced her older sister’s course record, 17:05 set in 2009, when she crossed the line in 16:44.27.

“I’ve always known she could do this. I don’t know where she’ll finish in San Diego, but I won’t be surprised with a very high finish.” – Wesley Frazier

Frazier is determined to develop her own identity and in the process supersede Wesley’s achievements, which include 13 state titles in cross country and track.

“She’s found her own way of racing. It’s impressive,” Wesley said. “I want her to beat every record I set.”

Frazier looks forward to the opportunity to again overthrow her sister’s performance when she lines up at Morley Field in San Diego, Calif., this Saturday. Both times her sister competed, her father told her she couldn’t go to the meet unless she earned her way there.

“I understood that. It became my goal to qualify,” said Frazier, who advanced after winning the Foot Locker South Regional title on Nov. 29. “It’s really sweet to finally get there. I knew it was in me.”

Frazier has leaned on her sister’s racing advice — how to stay relaxed and react to different competitive situations — and enters the meet feeling confident, relaxed and ready to compete.

She’ll run the 1.5-mile course around Balboa Park in her black adidas socks, which she’s worn for her last four races; but she doesn’t consider herself superstitious beyond saying goodbye to her Blue Weimaraner before leaving for California.

“My training gives me a good opportunity to win. I just hope it’s a good day for me,” said Frazier, who ran up to 40 miles a week to prepare.

As excited as she is to reconnect with her friendly rivals, Marissa Sheva of Pennridge High (Perkasie, Pa.) and Spartanburg Christian (S.C.) senior Logan Morris, she’s conscious not to let her nervous energy control her on the course.

“I’ve gone out in races too fast before so I don’t want to get crazy about it and worry about the other girls,” Frazier said.

She intends to attack the notorious “big hill” on the course by focusing on keeping her arms open to get the most out of her stride. She prepared it for by driving up the steepest hill she could find at WakeMed in Raleigh, home to the Nike Cross Nationals Southeast Regional.

Though she’s physically ready, Frazier acknowledges confidence is critical to a successful race, “more important than experience,” she added. “I’m going to do my best and put everything out there.”

“I’m very proud and happy for where she’s gotten,” Wesley said. “I’ve always known she could do this. I don’t know where she’ll finish in San Diego, but I won’t be surprised with a very high finish.”

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