Avon cross country runner Malyka Abramson hasn’t exactly been lucky when it came to the LaVern Gibson Championship XC Course in Terre Haute.
The Avon junior was injured before the state championship as a sophomore and tweaked her injury again in that final race, costing her precious places. In her junior campaign, Abramson fell near the first turn and finished a disappointing, by her standards, 12th.
“I felt like it was about time to have a good race there,” Abramson said. “I never believed in the whole curse thing when people talked about it.”
Her luck changed at the Nike Cross Nationals Midwest Regional tournament on Nov. 17 at the Lavern Gibson course that featured runners from Indiana, Ohio, Michigan, Missouri and Illinois. Abramson placed third with a time of 18:48.5 after chasing down the 2013 Indiana girls’ state champion Kelcy Welch (18:48.6) of Carmel through a headwind to outlean her at the finish by a very narrow margin and finished as the top Indiana runner in the race.
“I looked at her and gritted my teeth and knew I couldn’t let her beat me again, so I pushed as hard as I could up until I got her by .1 second,” Abramson said. “There was a pretty big gap between me and Kelcy ... and I knew I could run with her. We went straight into the wind and I didn’t know I was actually gaining on her.”
As one of the top five finishing individuals not on an advancing team, Abramson qualified for the Nike Cross Nationals on Dec. 7 at Portland Meadows in Portland, Ore., in a race that pits the best of the best from around the nation against one another.
“I’ve planned out that I’m just going to go out there and make a statement with my running,” Abramson said.
As an added bonus, Abramson will get to see portions of her family she hasn’t seen in quite some time, including her father. Abramson said the last time she was on the West Coast was a couple of years ago while in middle school and she did not do much running while there, just sight seeing.
“I’m really looking forward to it and my dad is also looking forward to it,” she said. “It’s all he’s been talking about for the past few weeks.”
With such a competitive field, Abramson understands the challenges ahead. After not losing a race until semi-state this season, she is physically ready for the challenge, but does want to improve in other areas.
“Something I’m still trying to work on is making myself mentally strong and mentally more prepared for this race,” Abramson said. “It still fluctuates through different parts of the day.”
— Follow Hendricks County Flyer sports editor Jake Thompson on Twitter @JacobEThompson.