CHAMPAIGN — Farah Scott placed her stamp upon the Christie Clinic Illinois Race Weekend 5-kilometer race last year.
She clocked the third-fastest time among all female athletes. As a seventh-grader.
Scott only enhanced her distance-running reputation during Friday night 2023 version of the same event on the University of Illinois campus.
The Holy Cross School eighth-grader put forth a time of 19 minutes, 20 seconds — 25 seconds quicker than her previous result — and captured the female championship in the process via a spirited sprint across the finish line at Memorial Stadium’s 50-yard line.
Scott became the first new female winner since 2017. Judah Christian graduate Laura Krasa claimed the mantle in each of the last three 5Ks.
“I heard a lot of people saying (while I was running that I could place first), and I was like, ‘Oh, that’s cool,’” said the 13-year-old Scott. “It just felt really good.”
Scott said she felt a little nervous as she and other 5K participants waited through a nearly 15-minute pre-race delay caused by the required removal of vehicles along the 3.1-mile route.
“But it was fine,” Scott said. “It was pretty good (running conditions) because it wasn’t windy or anything. I just felt pretty good throughout the whole thing.”
Scott has been running since fifth grade. She wasn’t sure how many other Holy Cross athletes also were involved in Friday’s 5K, pointing to some fifth-grade boys she was aware of.
“I like to be competitive, and I just like to (run),” Scott said. “It’s fun.”
Scott will be a Centennial High School student-athlete beginning later this year.
“I’m excited,” Scott said, “because I think I’ll be pretty good at the 3 miles instead of the 2 for cross-country.”
Scott’s junior-high distance-running results are impressive, with her eighth-grade track and field season still ongoing.
She saw her placement in the IESA Class 1A girls’ cross-country state championships jump from 99th as a fifth-grader in 2019 to 25th as a seventh-grader in 2021 to 19th as an eighth-grader in 2022. Scott clocked a 2-mile time of 12:49.6 earlier this school year to achieve the last of those outcomes.
On the track and field side, Scott is the reigning IESA Class 1A girls’ third-place finisher in the 800-meter run (2:35.78) and the defending fourth-place finisher in the 1,600 (5:51.33).
This season’s IESA track and field state meet will be conducted May 12-13 in East Peoria.
“I really want to do well in state,” Scott said. “For the 800, I want to place first or second.”
In that vein, Scott is forgoing any Saturday involvement in the Christie Clinic Illinois Race Weekend to complete a Sunday long run in the neighborhood of 4 to 6 miles.
Scott said one of her running inspirations these days is Effingham eighth-grader Isabella Keller, who placed second in this school year’s IESA Class 1A girls’ cross-country state meet.
“She’s really fast, but she’s so tiny,” Scott said. “We all call her ‘Killer Keller.’”
Scott doesn’t seem like someone who wants such mystique attached to her running career, as successful as it’s been thus far.
“I don’t really like to brag that much,” she said with a smileColin Likas is the preps coordinator at The News-Gazette. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter at @clikasNG.