‘She Gave Every Ounce of Energy’

Sydney Morrow, who finished 27th out of more than 200 runners in the state cross-country meet Saturday, competes earlier this year. File photo

It speaks to Sydney Morrow’s high standards and high expectations that she was “a little disappointed” after finishing 27th out of more than 200 runners Saturday at the CIF State cross-country tournament in Fresno.

South Pasadena High School’s lone representative at the meet was hoping for Top 10 finish. That didn’t happen — but Morrow’s usual elite and gutsy performance did.

“I expected to get in the Top 10 and I got 27th, so disappointment there, but I also felt accomplished because I made it really far and I got to compete in the state race, which was exciting,” Morrow, a sophomore, said after competing in the Division 4 girls race.

She finished the first mile in 10th place and the second mile in eighth, but ultimately began to tire and slow down.

Head coach Michael Parkinson couldn’t help but be proud of Morrow.

“That first mile just ultimately took a little too much out of her and she faded back in the last mile,” he said.

“I’ve never seen her give as much as she gave in a race — at the end, she had nothing left. She collapsed to the ground and we had to pick her up and walk her for 10 minutes, and she couldn’t talk and couldn’t walk, so she gave every ounce of energy she had, which made me proud of her.”

The first mile was run at a pace of 5 minutes and 33 seconds, which was Morrow’s personal record last April during track and field season. She kept up with the rest of the runners at that pace, went a little faster into the second mile, then ran out of gas.

“They went out a lot faster than perhaps she was ready for,’’ Parkinson said. “But analyzing and looking back, maybe I would have said slow down a little bit and be in 15th and then move up to 10th, but she did what I asked her to do, and then I said to try moving up in the second mile and she did — she moved up to eighth.’’

Morrow said she learned some valuable lessons.

“Just knowing that I have the ability to work my way up if I’m not in the front pack initially and knowing a good way to start and finish races,” she said.

The state competition may not be the final race of her cross country season. Morrow is signed up for the Foot Locker Cross Country Championships, an individual race she has been wanting to participate in all season. It takes place at Mount San Antonio College in Walnut on Saturday. If she does well, she has the chance to race in the nationals race on Dec. 14 at Balboa Park in San Diego.

Parkinson and Morrow are taking it day by day and doing regular workouts to prepare for the race. If she is too tired for the competition by Friday, they are going to pull her.

“I’d say it’s a pretty good chance that she’ll do it,’’ Parkinson said. “It would be good if she could bounce back from [the state race] and run [in this race], just to keep the mental game ahead.”