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Tori James

Tori James made an impression in her first year running cross-country for the Lackawanna Trail girls team.

Despite being only a freshman, James found herself running in the state championships.

Lions coach Keith Youtz, believes she is a strong candidate to return to the state championships this year.

“If Tori stays healthy, she should make her second trip to states this year,” Youtz said. “My expectations have not changed.”

A year ago she was just a promising newcomer to the varsity squad for the Lady Lions.

“Tori ran second most of the season on varsity behind Ashleigh Clarke,” Youtz said. “She was injured early in the season, but finished very strong, with an eighth-place at districts and 60th place at states.”

She started her sophomore season last week when she placed second for the Lady Lions in losses to Delaware Valley and Wallenpaupack with a time of 21:57.

“I just went out to try my best,” James said, “and I was pretty happy with what I got.”

“Actually, I was not doing so great on that run.” James said. “I thought I was going to do a little bit better, but I’m feeling better about our next meet, at Susquehanna.”

The sophomore logs fewer miles than the average runner but has a very good reason. “I baby-sit my two younger sisters,” James said. “Sometimes it puts a premium on my time.”

“Tori doesn’t run a large number of miles per week and didn’t run much during the summer months,” Youtz said. “She is very talented, she has the speed and endurance.”

Youtz believes that the lack of mileage is not going to cost her at the end of the season.

“Tori works very hard in practice. She had one pace -- fast all the time,” Youtz said. “I had to tell her to back off on the easy days. Tori seems to handle her school work, training, family responsibilities and keeps a pleasant, positive attitude.”

She hasn’t changed her running style, choosing to attack right from the opening gun.

“I go out hard, then try to keep a steady pace,” James said. “It’s going great. Sometimes I get tired at the end.”

But not many can catch up to the sophomore who still finds a way to get her preferred mileage every week.

“I just go out every day and run, usually a four-mile run if I could,” James said.

Needless to say, James has her very own fan club that sees her everyday after school.

It’s a responsibility she’s willing to assume for her family and it hasn’t impacted her performance on the course.