ROUND ROCK — Jaci McGregor accomplished her goal even if she does not remember doing so.
As a freshman at Salado, McGregor made a memorable debut at the University Interscholastic League Cross County State Championships, placing seventh overall by breaking the school record.
Since then, however, she raised her goals, looking to return and deliver an even more impressive performance.
And she did.
McGregor emerged from Saturday’s Class 4A state meet with a fifth-place medal after rewriting the Lady Eagles’ record book once again, crossing the finish line of the 3,200-meter course in 11 minutes, 49.99 seconds —eclipsing last year’s time of 11:53.29.
Although it was the showing she hoped for, it is not one she completely recalls.
“The last 400 meters was all a blur,” McGregor said. “I don’t even remember what happened. I just remember running.
“I was just trying my hardest to get a medal.”
The top 10 finishers earned a medal, and McGregor narrowly missed out on capturing a bronze medal, completing the course a mere 5.8 seconds behind third place.
Llano sophomore Anna Casey won the individual title with 11:39.78, and almost immediately, it became evident McGregor could not keep pace.
“At the beginning,” the sophomore said, “I got boxed in, so I fell very far behind, but I found openings and swerved my way through everybody.”
McGregor eventually worked her way to the front of the pack of 147 runners, situating herself in fifth place, where she remained through the home stretch of the race.
While the conditions were not ideal, McGregor entered the day confident thanks in part to her previous experience at state.
“There was headwind,” she said, “and that made it more difficult to run the race, but it was way easier mentally.
“I was still trying not to get too nervous before the race, though.”
McGregor averaged 5:54 per mile en route to her personal-record time, and while she is proud of the accomplishment, she is not satisfied.
“I’ll probably take a week off,” McGregor said, “and then I’ll get right back to it.
“I just want to keep getting better and better, and maybe by my senior year, I’ll be in the top three. I just want to keep bringing my time down.”