Eyes on the prize - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Eyes on the prize

November 4, 2002

Lowndes senior Melissa Daugherty has a vision. Lowndes senior Melissa Daugherty said, "I mean I dream, probably every night I dream of winning state."

And winning the state cross country meet is a realistic dream for the owner of four straight region titles and the ninth ranked runner in all classifications. But since placing tenth at the state meet in Carrollton her freshman year, Daugherty has failed to finish the last two years, something she blames on a lack of mental focus. "Mentally I have to keep myself in the race. Physically I know I'm capable of winning, it's just mentally I got to make myself believe that I can stay up with the girls and hopefully out-sprint them at the end," Daugherty said.

First year coach Craig Barnes has been working with Melissa on that new mental approach. He says first and foremost Daugherty had to get comfortable with the fact that, unlike the regular season, she won't be minutes ahead of the competition in Carrollton. Lowndes girls cross country coach Craig Barnes said, "Getting her used to when she did get in the top competition when we got to Atlanta to be able to have the confidence to continue to push when there are other girls there with her because it was something she wasn't used to."

"He pushes me, he gets in front of me and says I have to stay right in there behind them. And when it's time to sprint I just sprint past them and he just tells me this is state, pretend I'm one of those girls from Atlanta, just stay with me and that's what I do," Daugherty added.

And so now that the mental part of her running has caught up with the physical part, Melissa can do something she's dreamed about for the past four years, turning that vision into a reality. Daugherty said, "That's my dream, is just to win. To walk home with that championship hat, the little hat, and the medal. That's my dream."

The 5-A girls cross country meet begins this Saturday, November 9th at 1:30pm in Carrollton, Georgia.

Posted at 8:05 PM by kevin.mcdermond@walb.com