Jillian Richardson is the 2018 Sun Journal All-Region Girls’ Cross Country Runner of the Year. (Sun Journal photo by Andree Kehn)

Not many runners defeated Jillian Richardson in 2018. In fact, on Maine soil, only two girls bested Richardson.

Not bad for the Edward Little senior, who had the most successful season of her high school career to earn the 2018 Sun Journal All-Region Girls’ Cross Country Runner of the Year.

Richardson was winning races through August and September, but her breakout race was the Festival of Champions, in which she stayed in second place the entire race, finishing runner-up to Falmouth sophomore Sofie Matson in a personal best time of 18:29. The eight-second margin of victory was the closest a runner has come in Maine to Matson in her career.

After an extremely successful season that included wins at the KVAC and Class A Northern Regional championships, Richardson attributes some of her growth to her new head coach, Keith Weatherbie.

“I was happy with it, but I don’t think I was super-surprised because I had worked really hard over the summer, and with Coach Weatherbie I was confident in the workouts he was giving,” Richardson said. “That was definitely a big help. He knows a lot about when to rest, what types of workouts and when you should do them.”

At the Class A state championship, however, Richardson suffered a setback when she had a cramp, in her lower leg, for the first time that she can remember, with a mile remaining in the race.

“I didn’t feel it coming on, it just all of the sudden happened,” Richardson said. “I’ve never had cramps before, so it definitely slowed me down. It hurt when I was running, but when I tried to pick it up it hurt even more.”

Richardson finished in third behind Matson and Gorham’s Kate Tugman (she finished 17th in 2017). However, Richardson bounced back two weeks later in wet weather at the New England championships in Manchester, New Hampshire. Richardson embraces terrible conditions, so she entered the race with a mental advantage.

“I wish states had gone a little bit differently, but New Englands was an awesome race,. That was so fun,” Richardson said. “I’ve never had a race where it was super-muddy. It was like a big mud pit, but I thought it was super fun, it was like an obstacle course.”

Richardson capped off her season with a 15th place finish at the New England championships.

Edward Little’s Jillian Richardson leads in the KVAC meet, which she went on to win, at Cony High in October. (Kennebec Journal photo by Joe Phelan)

Jillian Richardson is the 2018 Sun Journal All-Region Girls’ Cross Country Runner of the Year. (Sun Journal photo by Andree Kehn)


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