New heights: Jillian Richardson blazed the trail for Edward Little

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Jillian Richardson (Andree Kehn/Sun Journal)

In her junior year, Jillian Richardson of Edward Little climbed to heights that haven’t been seen at her school in years.

Richardson qualified for the New England championship meet at Belfast this season, a race in which she’s wanted to participate before her senior year.

“I was hoping that I would make it,” Richardson said. “It would kind of be a lot for my senior year to be my first time… I thought I did training enough that I would.”

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Richardson opened the season with a win at Leavitt with a time of 19:39. She won that race by 49 seconds, and it prepared her for the rest of her season which featured a lot of success.

The homeschooled runner was very much a part of her Eddies team and a leader by example.

“Jillian brings a good leadership to the team,” Edward Little coach Ryan Getchell said. “She’s one of those people that all of the girls on the team like to be around her… Race day comes and she knows what she has to do and she will get the other girls on the team and says, ‘OK, let’s go.’”

Richardson’s personal best came at the Festival of Champions meet where the junior finished in 21st with a time of 19:20. Part of her success this season came from her extra preparation to races with the help of her family, mainly her brother Justin, the Edward Little coach last season.

“I’ve been taking the weekends more seriously and when we don’t have races and stuff,” Richardson said. “Justin (her brother) was the big runner, but everybody is really supportive, so it’s so good. They all come to my races when they can so it makes it fun. My parents go to a lot of them. It’s really helpful that they care about it so I just want to do well so I can make them proud.”

Proud they were, as Richardson finished third at the KVAC conference championship and followed it up with a fifth-place finish at the Northern regional championship meet. At the Class A state meet, Richardson finished 17th.

With a New England race under her belt, Richardson looks to take the strong cross country season into indoor track where she hopes to dominate the distance events.

“I think if I keep my training it’ll go nicely into the training for indoor,” Richardson said. “At first I did not like track at all but now I really like track.”

Jillian Richardson (Andree Kehn/Sun Journal)

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