Before leaving for the Nike Cross Nationals in Portland, Ore., Twin Falls High School junior Mattalyn Geddes told head cross country coach Tonia Burk and her mother that her goal was to finish in the top-15.
Geddes, who had already won the 4A state title and came in fifth at the NXR Northwest Regional meet, did that and then some.
With a personal-best time of 17:28.3, Geddes finished in ninth at the national competition on Saturday, solidifying her spot among the best cross country runners in the nation as an All-American, Burk confirmed.
“My goal was to make it to nationals,” Geddes said via phone on Saturday. “I never really thought about what I could actually do here.”
The 2017 Times-News girls cross country runner of the year and 2018 Times-News girls track athlete of the year has been shattering records, both school and personal, for some time now, and added another one to her résumê.
With her time, Geddes shaved 1.2 seconds off the personal best record she set at the state championships on Oct. 27.
One thing Burk wanted Geddes to improve upon heading into nationals was her engagement and aggression. Burk said she came out strong at the start in a way the coach had never seen from the junior, and that benefitted her through the end of the race.
“She was focused, had a good couple weeks of training leading up to this,” Burk said. “She ran really smart. She was aggressive.”
One issue that has plagued Geddes in the past—through no fault of her own—is that, during the season, she rarely has anyone finish within the same minute as her. In the past, Geddes has said she runs better when there are actually people around her.
That was another strategy Burk stressed to Geddes in the build-up to the race, and it paid off.
“Even though it was really rough, I forced myself to hang on to as many people as I could,” Geddes said.
Among the many impressive feats of Geddes’ day in Portland was the fact that she topped four girls who had beaten her at the NXR Northwest Regional.
Burk said Geddes didn’t quite stay “engaged” at the regional competition, which was why she fell behind those four runners by the end. On Saturday, Geddes did the opposite, and ended up as the top runner from the region.
It wasn’t something she worried about too much heading into the race, but proving she could beat the girls that edged her out on Nov. 10 was yet another milestone for the junior.
“In the back of my mind, I was kinda like ‘I’m just as good as these girls. They’re amazing, but I know I can do this,’” Geddes said. “I didn’t really care if I did, but I thought it would be cool.”
Four non-seniors finished ahead of Geddes on Saturday, proving she still has work to do ahead of next season. However, that won’t cause her too much stress right now.
Geddes said it’s a bit of a relief to have a break after a very long season, but she’ll be right back in the mix soon, trying to get her mile time under five minutes for track season and continue to dip into the low-17s when her senior cross country campaign rolls around.
“We’ll let her take some time off and enjoy it,” Burk said. “She deserves it. She’s exhausted. But, every goal that she set this year, she accomplished. That’s surreal.”