Big Reds’ Madison Trippett healthy again

Something was off with Parkersburg High cross country runner Madison Trippett last season. One of the Big Reds’ most accomplished runners wasn’t meeting her usually high standards she regularly set for herself.

There wasn’t a sophomore slump or the realization of all the attention on her. “She has always been mentally tough,” said PHS cross country coach Larry Games.

No, instead Trippett dealt with one of the most frustrating injuries a runner can face: a stress fracture in her leg. Huge chunks of her summer training regimen were obliterated by an injury where a bone becomes weaker in training because of the way the body heals it, leaving little hope for a typical campaign.

Even when she competed, the slightest pressure on her bones caused pain.

Mediocrity didn’t sit well with the then-sophomore. She slipped from a third-place finish at the state meet as a freshman to a seventh-place showing in 2017.

“It was really hard because you obviously have to trust the process and that can be hard when the results aren’t what you want them to be,” said Trippett.

While her frustrations were understandable, a silver lining emerged later in the year.

A bill of clean health received during track season led to a strong finish to her sophomore year. A pair of runner-up finishes (800 and 3200) and a bronze effort in the 3200 at the state meet served notice her body was ready to go.

A “harder than ever” summer training regimen followed in preparation for a fall campaign she intends to own. Her conditioning was on full display during The News and Sentinel Half Marathon 2-mile race.

One year after being passed by Big Reds’ teammate Olivia Collett and Ohio University’s Madison Sury while in the lead after the one-mile marker in the same race she went wire-to-wire 40 seconds faster than Sury’s top time in 2017.

Though not an official high school race, the event features some of the best competitors from around the nation. It proved a good unofficial start to the season.

“The win was a great confidence boost heading into the season,” said Trippett. “It is just a big race and there are a lot of people there.”

In season even her nemesis Ripley’s Tori Starcher couldn’t stop the Big Reds’ heated charge. Trippett blew past the reigning state champion Starcher by 40 seconds for a first-place finish at the St. Mary’s Medical Center XC Festival Saturday in Ona.

It was the first head-to-head win for the PHS runner. While it came with both competitors not in tip-top running shape, there was room to be encouraged.

“I think before this race she (Tori) seemed untouchable,” said Trippett. “It gives me motivation I can keep up with her. Going forward I am a lot more likely to go after her harder than I have in the past.”

An attacking mentality always on her mind as she hopes for an individual state championship this season. As well as her quest to break 18 minutes in a 5K.

She believes the title is in reach, but knows the competition is fierce. In addition to Starcher, University’s Zoe Shetty and teammate Olivia Collett have eyes on the top prize as do a few new freshmen.

“I am going to train hard no matter what,” said Trippett. “You can never rule anyone out. Anyone can come out of nowhere and have an excellent race.”

“We are expecting big things from her if she stays healthy,” said Games. “What that means exactly, who knows?”

Trippett hopes it is a state title.

Contact Joe Albright at jalbright@newsandsentinel.com.

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