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GIRLS RUNNER OF THE YEAR: Savannah Carnahan, South
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Savannah Carnahan’s season didn’t start or finish the way she had hoped, but in between the sophomore and 2013 Forsyth County Girls Runner of the Year put up remarkable times and made a name for herself as one of the best runners in the state.

It began with a foot injury, one that didn’t fully heal until after the 2013 schedule was underway. This ailment affected Carnahan in her first two races, each ending with third place finishes.

Not bad results by any means, but not up to her lofty standards.

"This year started out a little rocky with my injury," she said. "My first couple meets didn’t go exactly as planned, and it was frustrating to deal with, because I knew I wasn’t at my best."

But the wounded muscles got better, and so did Carnahan’s times. She went on to win three of her next six meets, placing second in those she failed to win. The improvements over her freshman campaign were evident: as a freshman she posted a sub-19:00 just once; this year, she hit that mark five times.

"Later in the season, around the middle of the season, I hit my stride. I started hitting really good times, times I enjoyed getting," she said.

Carnahan certainly enjoyed her time at the Asics XC Invitational (17:36:87), which was not only a personal record, but an all-time school record, as well.

Owning that record has done wonders for Carnahan’s confidence, which contributed to two more first place finishes in a row, including the Region 6-AAAAAA championships.

But then Carnahan got sick, and her times suffered once again. Some issues with congestion, which affected how well she could breathe, made matters more difficult for her—especially when considering how cold the weather gets toward the end of cross country season.

She finished sixth at the state championships — an improvement over last year, but not satisfying.

"At state, she can do better than sixth," said South head coach Van Munn. "She can run with all those girls.

"Next year, if she’s not No. 1 it will be kind of disappointing. If she’s not top 3 at state, she will not have accomplished what she can accomplish."

Carnahan aspires to run for a Division 1 college and eventually run professionally, and her record-setting performance at the Asics XC Invitational makes those goals seem more attainable than ever.

But college is still a ways away. Carnahan still has her junior and senior years at South to improve herself, to improve her times and earn more first place finishes.

"She’s just a sophomore. That’s the good thing about it," said Munn. "We’re looking forward to her progressing .We’re looking forward to the track season and her competing at the top level in the state again."

In that time she has a few key goals, including a state championship and an invitation to Foot Locker Nationals, where the best runners in the country compete.

"It would be huge to make it to Foot Locker," she said. "There have been a lot of runners who are currently professional who have gone there.

"It’s pretty amazing to know I have a chance to get that."