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FALL ALL-AREA: Girls cross country: Rebholz overcame doubt, injury to lead Eagles to titles
SEE MORE HERE: Cross Country Capsules
BY TAFT COGHILL JR.
THE FREE LANCE–STAR
When Megan Rebholz attended H.H. Poole Middle School in Stafford County, she wanted to find a way to make new friends.
So Rebholz joined the track and field team.
Rebholz wanted to be a sprinter, but her parents insisted her body frame was more suited for distance running. They came to a compromise and Rebholz competed in the 800 meters.
FALL ALL-AREA TEAMS
This week, The Free Lance-Star is unveiling our fall high school All-Area teams. Here is the schedule:
TODAY: Cross country
Friday: Field hockey
Saturday: Football All-Area team and coach of the year
Sunday: Football player of the year
There was just one issue.
“I wasn’t any good at all,” Rebholz said.
Rebholz figured she was done with track and field when she entered Colonial Forge High School. Instead of trying out for the cross country team, she joined the marching band as a piccolo player.
But “on a whim,” she said, she decided to give track and field one more try. She joined the Eagles’ program during the spring outdoor season, but admitted, “I was the slowest girl on the team.”
“I did it mostly to have fun and make new friends,” Rebholz said. “I didn’t think running was going to be a part of my future. My whole freshman year, I didn’t have running spikes just because I didn’t think I was ever going to stick with it.”
Not only has Rebholz stuck with it, she has become one of the top runners in the Fredericksburg area.
She won the Marine Corps Historic Half for her age division in 2010. She became one of the Eagles’ top runners before a hip flexor injury derailed her sophomore season.
And as a junior in 2012, she placed second in the Commonwealth District, fourth in the Northwest Region and 25th in Group AAA. That helped her earn Free Lance–Star girls cross country runner of the year honors.
“I think Megan, for us, is really the epitome of hard work and what we strive for with an athlete,” Colonial Forge coach Sean Leyh said. “She’s someone who didn’t start off the most talented or anything like that. But over two years now she’s really built herself into one of the premier [cross country] athletes in the state.”
Mary Rebholz said her daughter’s breakthrough occurred after she won the Marine Corps half-marathon because “that was a taste of victory for her.”
Megan said she was further motivated when Colonial Forge coaches told the team the top 10 runners the following season would attend the Chili Pepper Festival (a national cross country meet) in Fayetteville, Ark.
Megan wanted so badly to be a part of the trip that it motivated her all summer. She said that every morning, regardless of the temperature, she’d go for a run. She said that she kept thinking to herself, “You’ve got to make varsity,” and she did.
“I just thought that was so cool that everyone was going to get to go on a plane and it was going to be like a big trip with all the girls staying in a big lake house,” she said. “I just thought it sounded like so much fun and I wanted to be a part of that.”
It wasn’t much fun for Rebholz in Arkansas. She suffered a hip flexor and had to be pulled from her race. She went on to miss the district and regional meets. She competed for the Eagles in the state meet because they had qualified as a team, but she wasn’t completely healed.
This past season was a different story. With 2011 Free Lance–Star runner of the year Frances Morales sidelined with a fractured foot, Rebholz stepped up to help lead the Eagles to district and regional titles.
“When we lost Frances early, we knew she wasn’t going to be there,” Leyh said. “That could ruin a season for a typical team. But Megan was really one of the ones that stepped up and said, ‘This isn’t going to happen that way.’”
Rebholz said recovering from the hip flexor motivated her as much as the trip to Arkansas. She said her new motivation is to become an elite runner.
She noticed that other standouts across Virginia competed in the Foot Locker Cross Country championships in San Diego, Calif., recently. She’s aiming to do so next year.
“I’ve moved from the bottom near the top,” Rebholz said. “But it doesn’t stop here.”
Taft Coghill Jr.: 540/374-5526