SALEM - Salem senior cross country standout Mallory Maher is throwing time out the window.
When Maher runs in today's Division II District Cross Country Meet at Malone University, all she's worried about is finishing in the top 16 and moving on to regionals.
"If it's really muddy out but I finish tenth, I'm moving on," she said. "This season has gone pretty good, but I still have a lot of room to improve. I'm excited."
Maher has had a solid year individually as well as leading her team. Maher took eighth at the Salem Early Bird Invitational (22:09.32), 11th at the Marlington Invitational (20:40.5), eighth at the East Palestine Rotary Invitational (21:38.8), 25th out of nearly 300 runners at the Spartan Invitational (20:34.34), 15th at the Malone Invitational (20:28.31), second in the Columbiana County Meet (20:33), 31st at the Midwest Meet of Champions (19:57.34), fourth at The Legends Race at the Trumbull County Fairgrounds (20:43.2), as well as fifth at the Northeastern Buckeye Conference Meet (20:22.51) where she was also named First Team All-Conference.
Maher's overall times have improved a great deal since last season, but she isn't one to stack her stats against others from around the state. That doesn't mean others aren't letting her know.
"I personally don't look," she said citing she wants to be more focused on her own performance rather than anyone else's. "I know where I stand because some people tell me, but I try to stay away from it just so I can focus on my own race."
While the Salem cross country program has been in somewhat of an unusually down year overall by Quaker standards, Maher says she wouldn't trade the 2012 version of her squad for any other.
"I love my team this year," she said. "I wouldn't give them up for anything. They have all supported me so much. They stand around to cheer me, they run with me at my hardest work outs. They've been great."
Maher is coached by Amie Cochran. Cochran has seen Maher improve not only on the stat sheet over the last few years, but also as a leader and inspiration to the Salem program.
"She is a wonderful senior leader," Cochran said. "It's been her best season. All the girls look up to her including the junior high girls. Her work ethic and attitude is outstanding."
Cochran shares a similar attitude when it comes to Maher's course time - don't worry about it, just get in the top 16.
"I told her it's all about getting to regionals," Cochran said. "Honestly, it's just about her believing in herself and for her to have as much confidence as she can and to have fun. Enjoy your teammates and enjoy the ride."
Maher has gotten pretty familiar with the Malone University course she'll be running today. She finished ninth at Malone last season (21:40.43) to become a regional qualifier.
"Usually twice I year I run there alone," she said. "So I kind of know what to expect. There's lots of very steep hills, but that's what makes the course what it is and that's what makes cross country cross country."
Maher's trek towards a second-straight regional appearance will start at 1:20 p.m. at Malone University when the Salem Lady Quakers compete at districts.
The Salem boys cross country team will begin today at 11:35 a.m.