2017 Girls Cross Country Runner of the Year: Strong finish helps Wilkins to successful sophomore season

FRONT ROYAL – Sabrina Wilkins knows how to finish a race and a season.

FRONT ROYAL – Sabrina Wilkins knows how to finish a race and a season.

The Skyline sophomore has made a habit of doing her best when it counts the most and that continued this season. Wilkins set a new personal record in the Class 3 state meet and finished 10th in the meet with a time of 19:26.

“It was nothing I didn’t expect,” Skyline cross country coach Rodger Seemiller said of Wilkins’ season. “She handles the season like she runs the races. She kind of lays back a little bit, has it carefully planned, orchestrated and then she attacks. And she just always has the right amount left in the tank for the finish. So she always has a strong finish. And again at the end of a race or at the end of the year is when she comes on.”

Wilkins, The Northern Virginia Daily’s Girls Cross County Runner of the Year, said it was a great season and she was very happy with it.

Wilkins said she learned a lot from her freshman season, which helped this year.

“Being a freshman when I was running was nerve-wracking, because I was a freshman racing a bunch of people that were older than me,” Wilkins said. “Running last year definitely helped for this year. I just knew what to expect coming in to this season.”

One of the big highlights of the season for Wilkins was winning the Northwestern District Class 3 meet held at Brentsville High School. She won the race in a time of 19:46, beating Brentsville’s Lydia Goetz by 15 seconds. Goetz, a senior, went on to finish third in the Class 3 state meet and finished in the top 5 in the state meet in 2016.

“It was a great feeling,” Wilkins said. “I thought I wouldn’t be able to beat her because she’s a senior. But when I won I felt like relief. I felt invincible, because If I can beat her I can beat someone else — I can beat anyone if I set to it. It gave me a lot of confidence. I felt like I could beat her again or I could beat anyone.”

The following week on the same course, Goetz won the Region 3B meet and Wilkins finished second. Wilkins said she was still very happy with the accomplishment.

“It was a very good feeling, because it was like I’m second best in the region — that’s amazing,” Wilkins said. “It’s just amazing, all of it’s amazing. I wasn’t trying to think about winning (regionals), I was trying to think of beating my own time because that’s really all that matters.”

Last year Wilkins placed 18th in the state meet, and she said her goal for this year’s meet was to finish in the top 15 and make all-state.

Wilkins said as great as making the top 10 was, it felt even better knowing she had a personal record time.

“PR’ing – that’s just the best feeling ever, because you just feel so accomplished,” Wilkins said.

Wilkins said her main goal this year was to run a race in less than 19 minutes, and she said that will be her main goal next year as well. Wilkins said the times are more important than placement to her in races.

Wilkins also runs track and field. Last year she finished eighth in the 3,200-meter run in the state meet, and set a school record in the event.

Wilkins said that running track helps cross country and vice-versa. Wilkins said she prefers to run cross country over track and field.

“I like cross country better, because it gives me more scenery,” Wilkins said. “And it’s like you’re going uphill, downhill, you’re taking turns. In track it’s fun, but you’re running in circles. But cross country you get a view you get to run through woods – it’s like an adventure.”

Wilkins doesn’t have to look very far to find competition to run against – – her teammate Carrie Hotek. During the regular season Hotek usually leads the way, before Wilkins goes to the front in the postseason.

Hotek placed 23rd in the Class 3 state meet in a time of 20:16.

“Me and Carrie (Hotek), we have this bond when we’re running,” Wilkins said. “We push each other. If she’s in front of me, she’ll push me. But if I’m in front of her, I’ll help her speed up. It’s just a mutual thing. We help each other speed up and it just pushes us to go further.”

Skyline didn’t qualify for the state meet as a team. The Hawks finished fifth as a team in the Region 3B meet. Wilkins said she still had a good time running with the team this year.

“Even though we didn’t do as well as we wanted to, it was a very enjoyable year,” Wilkins said. “I loved everyone on our team. And I loved being co-leader with Carrie (Hotek). It was just fun – this was a fun year.”