High School – Octorara High School
College – Penn State Harrisburg
Anticipated College Major – Mechanical Engineering
Future Aspirations – Continuing to run in college and beyond
Favorite subject in HS – Engineering
Favorite HS teacher – Mr. Lefever, my engineering tech teacher who has helped me decide what to pursue as my major
Favorite Quote: I’m going to work so that it’s a pure guts race at the end, and if it is, I am the only one who can win it. – Steve Prefontaine
Favorite thing to do when not competing –Mountian Bike
Something that people would be surprised to know – I am very close to earning the rank of Eagle Scout
Favorite Shoe Brand – Saucony
Favorite HS invite – Oakbourne Relays my sophomore year, the meet has a really fun race format, unfortunately I only got to compete in the relay once.
Best HS memory – Winning a down the wire race right at the finish line
Advice to younger athletes – Don’t be discouraged by a bad race or 2, use those races as motivation to improve and you’ll see results.
instagram – Sam_b_26
My Running Experiences By Sam Bishop
I have been running cross country (XC) and track for six years now, and I have learned and grown as a runner in that time. I’ve had lots of highs and lows over that time and found that running is something I’m very passionate about. This piece of writing is essentially a reflection of how I grew each year in high school as a distance runner.
Freshman year was a great learning experience for me, I ended the season with much better running form, knowledge, and times than I entered. I had run in middle school but wasn’t particularly good, I had lots to learn about the sport. It was also Octorara’s first year in the Lancaster-Lebanon League so every meet was a learning experience for even the older runners and our coach, we didn’t use the flags to mark the course back in the Chesmont League so it was completely new to us. I started in the 23-minute range and ended at 20:24. I missed districts by 24 seconds (qualifying was running under 20 mins) and was disappointed but knew I had 3 more years to improve. track season was pretty rough, I was a dedicated two mile runner but never really performed, with my best time being a 12:04. I knew I could do better and had loftier goals, so that summer I put in the work so I could meet those goals come cross country season.
My sophomore year is the one I would label as a “breakout year” of sorts. I started the season at a disappointing 21+ minute 5k. After training all summer with high expectations of breaking 20 for the first time, I was really upset with my time. For the next couple of weeks, I continued to work hard, and even though my times in races were not improving, my level of fitness definitely was. Around the middle of the season, we had a home meet, and both Coach and I had a good feeling about the race. In the end, I not only broke 20, but I also shattered it, running a 19:25. I was on top of the world and threw all the excitement right back into my training. The next week we had a meet at Lancaster Catholic. By the time we stepped on the line I was feeling confident and had high hopes of breaking 19 just a week after breaking 20. Through two miles I held nearly perfect pace to break 19 and my only worry was maintaining it through 1 more mile. I crossed the finish line at 18:50, once again exhilarated to have back-to-back massive personal bests. Coming into the league meet I was hoping to carry that success through and run 18:30. I crossed the line at 18:45, still excited to have a new personal record (PR) but disappointed as well. I then turned my eyes to Districts and prepared to put myself in the best situation to run a new PR. Pre-race I was more nervous than I had ever been, and let myself get in my own head. I ended up going out way too fast in the first mile and by the time I hit the second mile, it was all I could do to stay running. I ended the meet with a disappointing time in the 19:30-40 range but decided to turn my attention to winter training for track. I worked hard throughout the winter and was prepared for a much-improved track season from Freshman year. But as it turns out, there wasn’t going to be a track season. Two weeks into practice we learned that all schools in the state were to shut down for two weeks due to Covid. As we all know, two weeks turned into several months. Heartbroken, I took a break from running for the first time in a while and began to bike more instead. But in late spring I came back to running to start getting prepared for Junior XC Season.
During quarantine, I spent a lot of time putting in lonely miles to prepare myself for a Junior season that we weren’t even sure would happen. I had decided in my head that if we were to have a season, I would be ready, I wanted this season to be even bigger than the last. I wanted to be not just a strong individual runner, but a strong team runner as well. In past seasons Octorara had not assembled a strong team, this year we were determined to change that, we believed that we had the pieces and that all we needed was to put it all together. Right off the bat, there was a wrench thrown in our goal, our Coach of 10+ years was moving on from coaching. For a couple of weeks, we were left wondering if we would even have a coach, much less a season. We didn’t have to wait very long, we found a coach and we were all prepared to start working hard. The team showed improvement from the previous seasons but our record remained the same. Individually, I didn’t fare much better, I spent most of the season running in the low 19s until we had 2 back to back home meets in which I hit a new PR at 18:22 and then the next week ran 18:23. This motivated me to work harder, while I had a new PR I was also driven to run faster. Coming into the league meet I was determined to earn a spot in districts, I knew I had a fair shot and wanted to make the most of it. Once again, I got into my own head and took the first mile out way too fast. From there the heat really got to me and I ended up crossing the line in a very disappointing 19:58. Distraught that the season was over way too early I ended up taking off 2-3 weeks of running to spend some time on my mountain bike. I ended up getting a job over the winter and struggled to balance work and training, work ended up winning out temporarily and my winter training was rather lacking. Come track season I had found a better balance and was starting to get into good shape. After the first couple meets I had found a niche on the team as a dedicated two mile runner, sometimes running the mile or 4×800 as well. But at an away meet at Annville-Cleona I ran the mile, 800, two mile, and 4×400. At some point in one of those races, I must have had an awkward step or just simply overdid it but the end result was a foot/heel injury that lingered throughout much of the season. I competed in several meets after that but without much success, the injury just kept returning. I didn’t return to full health until we had just one race left in the regular season, and I knew it was gonna be difficult to return to the form I was in. I ended up barely earning the team league spot for the two mile and was excited to get one more chance in an otherwise wasted season. In the league meet, I was feeling good all day and that feeling continued as I stepped on the line. Through the first mile, I was feeling good and still hanging onto the pack. I knew I was on pace for a huge PR so all I had to do was hold on. I was even able to make a couple of moves and pass a couple more runners in the last few laps of the race. I finished with a 10:56, 40 seconds faster than anything I had run that season and almost 30 seconds faster than my previous PR. Naturally, my focus turned to carry that momentum through to my senior year of XC.
So far senior year has been my best season yet, running my fastest ever times, on what is likely one of the best teams Octorara has fronted for 10+ years and am a contributor to the team’s success and culture change. Running for a competitive team is something that up until now I hadn’t really had the chance to experience in my high school career. It’s a much different feeling, knowing that we have a legit chance to come out on top of the majority of AA teams we faced in league meets. While we had some off races, the team as a whole performed well and we finished 7-4 on the season. We also qualified for Districts at the League meet, even without our true #5 runner. On a personal level, I ran a new PR of 17:50, 30 seconds improved from my time last season on the same course. I also won my first ever XC race, granted, our #1 wasn’t running at full capacity. For now, I’m working hard for track season where I hope to significantly drop my 2 mile PR. I plan to run D3 XC and Track in college for Penn State Harrisburg and am looking forward to moving up to the next level of competition.