Allison Garda's victories this season never were easy. During a meet with rival Greensburg Central Catholic, a bee stung her tongue just a half mile into the meet and she finished the match with a swollen mouth. The Riverview junior finished second in the Freedom Invitational while running the last two miles with only one shoe and suffered an asthma attack during another.
However, none of these setbacks deterred her, and Garda finished fifth in the WPIAL and 29th in the state. Her Lady Raiders team won the WPIAL as a team and finished eighth in the state.
For her accomplishments, Garda is the Valley News Dispatch Girls Cross Country Runner of the Year.
"All those weird things that kept happening to me, they made me try harder and harder," Garda said. "I persevered through the whole thing and by the time I went to WPIALs, I had a great race."
Garda engaged in a lengthy training regimen over the summer, running more than 500 miles. She also attended the Princeton cross country camp and worked in a strength training program.
"I had really good guidance from my coaches," Garda said. "I love training and I love competing and going out on long runs."
Garda finished third in the Gateway Invitational, which featured a field of mostly Class AAA schools. She also finished second in the Lakeview Invitational and fourth in the Oatlands Invitational. The Oatlands Invitational featured runners from five states, but that still isn't Garda's happiest memory of the season.
"Our school finished high in the state meet, and I accomplished my goal of being in the top 30 in the state," Garda said "Every time we had new successes with this young team, it was a thrilling experience to do it again."