Maybe it was youthful exuberance or maybe Samantha Lapp didn't fully understand the dynamics of cross country when she made an outrageous statement as a O'Fallon High School freshman two years ago.
Or maybe, Lapp knew she had the ability to break 17 minutes on a 3-mile cross country course.
"I remember saying when I was a freshman that I wanted to be running in the 16's when I was a senior,'' Lapp said recently.
Lapp, one of the BND's co-players of the year in cross country, is right on pace toward achieving that goal.
A junior at the top of the Panthers lineup throughout the year, Lapp ran a time of 17 minutes, 25 seconds at the Class 3A State Meet in Detweiller Park in Peoria, good for 34th place in the Chicago area- dominated race. Teammate Sydney Neal was 32nd overall in 17:22.
The Panthers' duo not only broke the previous mark of 17:56 set by Neal last year but led the O'Fallon harriers to their first top-10 finish.
"Our goal was to be in the top 10, and we did that. Now I think we're hungry for more,'' Lapp said. "We're shooting for the top five next year and we want a trophy. We're tired of the boys getting all the honors.''
While the Panthers boys earned a second straight state runner-up finish, 2012 was the best ever for the O'Fallon girls.
Lapp, the daughter of Joseph and Kathryn Lapp, won the season-opening Granite City Invitational and placed third or better in four other major meets as she earns the honor as the Belleville News-Democrat co-runner of the year. Lapp shares the honor with Neal and Mater Dei junior Madeline Lager.
Lapp was at her best in the big races. Second in the SWC Meet, Lapp was also second in the Edwardsville Regional and placed third in the Class 3A Normal Sectional.
Just as important was the example set by both Lapp and Neal as they led the way for an otherwise young squad.
"Sam also took on more of a leadership role this year. We had a couple of seniors, but it's really nice when your top kids step up and lead by example,'' Panthers coach Neil James said, "Sam did that every day and in every workout. When you have kids who do that, it kind of sets the tone for the others to follow,''
Lapp also was a leader in the offseason. O'Fallon runners annually run hundreds of miles during the summer to help condition and train themselves for the nearly three-month-long cross country season. Lapp was one of the leaders of the pack all summer as she matured both mentally and physically.
"We're more like a family and I think that, because we're close, it helps because when you push yourself, you are also helping your teammates become better,'' Lapp said.
"Physically, I was stronger because I have improved my diet and I didn't get sick. Last year I got sick a lot. I was also much more focused and I think the more diffuclt workouts made me better.
Lapp's goals for next year? To bring back some hardware from the state meet.
"Like I said, the goal is to be in the top 5,'' Lapp said. "The boys success has inspired us. Its great to go to school with and know people who have done what the boys have done.
"But we're still like, we can do that too.''
Contact reporter Dean Criddle at 239-2661 or firstname.lastname@example.org