Ris starting strong in sophomore season
FRONT ROYAL — It all started at the hair salon.
Jacqui Ris said she was at the hair salon a little over two years ago when a friend of hers encouraged her to give cross country running a shot.
“She goes, ‘you know what, you’re competitive, you like running in gym, you’re coming to practice with me,'” Ris recalled on Monday afternoon. “I was like ‘no, I hate sports.’ She was like ‘you don’t have a choice,’ and I was like ‘OK, fine I’ll come to practice.”
Ris, now a Warren County sophomore, said she was hooked from that very first practice.
“I remember it hurt, but I loved it so much that I just had to come back,” Ris said.
In her first meet of her sophomore season, Ris helped lead the Wildcats to a second-place team finish and placed third in the Central Invitational on Saturday. Ris finished with a time of 19:49.
Ris’ performance helped her earn The Northern Virginia Daily’s Female Athlete of the Week for the week of Aug. 24-30.
Warren County cross country coach Joseph Owens said he was very proud of how Ris ran in the meet.
“She was just very smart,” Owens said. “She definitely stuck to her game plan. She definitely ran her race and it really worked out for her. We’re really proud of her for that. She showed a lot of self control, and a little bit of maturity beyond her years right now.”
Ris said last year she was more casual about running, but this year she is being more competitive and she’s happy with how things have went so far.
A turning point for Ris came in the spring as she went out for track for the first time and was the only female distance runner on the squad.
She said she’s always enjoyed running with the boys and trying to beat them and it was a fun experience.
Owens said he thinks running with the boys helped prepare her for this cross country season.
“Her choices were to run alone or run with the guys and that’s what she did,” Owens said. “This track season just helped broaden her base as far as her endurance, and it’s just helping her get to that peak that she wants to get to.”
Ris said she loves to compete, and she doesn’t have to look far for competition. Her teammate, Claire Morrow, finished just behind her in fourth at the Central Invitational. Morrow, a senior, was the only girls runner to advance to the state meet last year.
Owens said Ris and Morrow have been a great tandem for the team.
“Having those two together is incredible. You can tell that they work together really well,” Owens said. “They push each other. …Those two are always together always pushing each other, and it’s going to do nothing but help both of them succeed this season.”
Contact staff writer Tommy Keeler at 540-465-5137 ext. 168, or firstname.lastname@example.org