NORMAL, Ill. (WMBD/WYZZ) — The highly anticipated high school debut of Normal Community freshman Ali Ince has not been a disappointment.
The former middle school cross country and track state champion is now proving she can cut it at the high school level.
Tom Patten/Normal Community cross country coach: She had a great junior high career, obviously she lost junior high track (season) last year,” said Normal Community cross country coach Tom Patten. “But then over the summer she ran five-flat for the mile. So we knew she was a talent, and she’s been proving it so far.”
Ince has posted some of the top times in central Illinois this year. And has impressive victories at the Intercity meet and at the Peoria Notre Dame Blue-Green Invite.
She’s out to prove that even though she’s a freshman, no stage is too big.
Right now I’m just trying to get better every meet and just progress as the season goes on,” Ince said. “I really didn’t know what a great time was since this is my first year, so just getting better every race seems to be working right now for me.”
Ince admits the big difference between junior high and high school cross country is the shift from two miles races to three.
“Two miles was great cause you get to go and get done quick, so I definitely found that three miles you have to pace a lot more,” said Ince. “It’s a lot more tiring, I found that, so.”
The cross country season is winding to a close. Ince will run in Metamora’s Runnin’ Red Invite Saturday and then get ready for the Big 12 Conference meet at Peoria’s Detweiller Park where she just ran her top time of the year, 17:22, in winning the Notre Dame meet.
“She is just really, really gifted, there’s no question about that. But she combines that with a real work ethic that freshman don’t typically have,” Patten said. “It’s an advantage for our program to have a girl like that.”