Success has put more pressure on Boyle's Piper

September 09, 2003|JILL ERWIN

Boyle County junior Abby Piper has finally come into her own.

Despite being Boyle's top runner for much of last season, Piper and coach Doug Sharp said Piper still ran in the shadow of Megan Lewis. Now that Lewis is gone, Piper is getting more attention from opponents, but she's still thriving.

Piper heads into Thursday's Boyle County Invitational on an uptick, having won the A.J. Special at Asbury last Thursday and finishing third in the E.G. Plummer Invitational Saturday at Admiral Stadium.

It's that kind of success that has increased the pressure on Piper.

"It was kind of nice being in Megan's shadow," Piper said. "Even though I beat her the last year she was here, she was still the legend so I got to hide and no one knew I was coming. I'm not really used to being in the limelight. I guess it's something I'll have to get used to."


She will if she continues running how she is right now. Her time of 21 minutes, six seconds was enough to win at Asbury, and she improved that time by 20 seconds in Saturday's meet.

While it's too early for Sharp to start worrying about where Piper's finishing or what times she's running, he does think those two races plus Thursday's home meet will go a long way toward helping Piper's confidence.

"Right now, all she needs is confidence," Sharp said. "Otherwise, we could care less what happens before the end of October. This has got to be fun for at least five or six more weeks. Middle of October, we can start letting her get a little more serious. I think she had fun Thursday, and I think that's one of the first times she's had fun. I know Thursday was not a fluke."

Piper admits she didn't expect the success she's had this season. She said she is aiming for a top-10 finish in the Class AA state meet, but said she reserves the right to modify that goal, say to top-five, as the season goes on.

Her aim is under 20 minutes

She's also aiming to get under the 20-minute mark on her 3.1-mile time.

"I knew I was strong, but I didn't know how strong I was," Piper said. "I didn't know if my strength was in endurance or in speed, and it so happens that it's both.

"I'd like to be a consistent 19:30 runner, but I don't know how feasible that is. I've got two years left and whatever I want to do, I think I can do. The key to it all is hard work. If I'm willing to work, I can get whatever I want."

Piper put in the time over the summer. She went to a Nike running camp in Asheville, N.C. with Boyle teammates Patrick and Sam Morgan and John Anderson. The group would run at least an hour every day on trails in the woods around Asheville, and Piper said that got her more prepared for this season.

As the only girl in the Boyle contingent, she got used to competing with the boys, and that carried over this school year. Piper spent the preseason practices running the boys workout instead of with the girls, and she said it has paid off with improved times in meets.

"I know it has," Piper said. "The workout that I'm doing, a lot of the top area girls have been doing, but they don't have the boys team to train with. I came back from that camp in such great shape and went right into training. I train with the boys every day and I know that helps because the intensity level is so much higher."

Sharp said Piper has every opportunity to make this a special season, but said his job will be to keep her from getting too anxious.

"She knows what she needs to do," Sharp said. "It's just going to be getting her to understand that she is as good as she wants to be. She wants to be good, and so she puts enough pressure on herself. The hardest job I'm going to have is keeping her relaxed. A lot of kids, you want them focused. Her, you want her laughing and having fun."

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