URBANA — Sara Jarman has been working for three years to get her time under 20 minutes on a 3.1-mile course.
So, the junior cross-country standout for Urbana wasn’t going to let something like her brain slow her down Saturday afternoon on her home course.
“Running is such a mental sport,” Jarman said after winning the girls varsity race at the Urbana Invitational in a personal-best 19 minutes, 58 seconds. “You may not even notice it, but your subconscious can tug at you. ‘Oh, you are hurting. Slow down.’”
But Jarman said she made it personal Saturday, not only against her brain, but against the second-place finisher Maria Grafov of Mount Hebron.
“So, if my brain told me to slow down, I was going to be like, ‘Oh, no! You can’t beat me today,’” Jarman said. “With Maria, we are good friends, and we’re on the same triathlon team. But I was like, ‘No.’ I wanted bragging rights.”
Jarman does what it takes to make sure she is ready to run.
When an issue with her achilles tendon flared up earlier this season, she was willing to stop running with a mile to go in the Patriot Invitational at Thomas Johnson and sit out the Bull Run Invitational on Sept. 22 rather than try and push through the injury while running. She also dialed it back a little in practice until the issue cleared up and she felt stronger.
“Lots of ice baths,” she said. “I will probably be one of the only ones to tell you that I love them.”
Jarman looks at competitive running this way: “Running is never easy. It’s like math. It’s like you know how to do it, but it doesn’t get easier.”
Not that she is looking for it to get easier. She loves the challenge.
“You can always push yourself harder,” she said. “It should never be easy.”
Jarman would like to add more big-meet victories to her résumé. She has won the Brunswick Invitational twice along with Saturday’s win on her home course.
“She could be the girl that no one sees coming at the county meet,” Urbana coach CJ Ecalono said. “She really has no weaknesses. She is strong wherever. She knows how to pace. She knows how to play the strategy game. She knows how to, kind of, pinpoint things and when to go after things, when to finish, when to kind of relax and just breath.”
Urbana did not run its top three freshmen in the girls race to allow them to rest and heal nagging injuries. That helped Mount Hebron win the team championship with a score of 28 points.
The Urbana girls were second with 41. Thomas Johnson was third with 89. Walkersville was fourth with 103, and Southern-Anne Arundel placed fifth with 118.
Mount Hebron also won the boys team title with a score of 26 behind a first-place finish from sophomore William Jones (17:04.14).
The Urbana boys were second with 47. TJ was third with 81. Walkersville was fourth with 101, and Southern-Anne Arundel was fifth with 130.
Senior Jonathan Mason, a sprinter on Urbana’s track team, finished second overall for the Hawks in the boys varsity race with a time of 17:15.3.