It's been an exciting few weeks for Alex Davis, full of road trips and frequent flyer miles.
The Plainview senior has been a girl on the go, from Oklahoma to Texas to North Carolina. The next two weeks won't slow down, as Davis will head to the west coast for the final phase of her high school cross country career.
Davis has qualified for Saturday's Nike Cross Nationals in Portland, Ore., and the Foot Locker Cross Country Championships National Finals in San Diego on Dec. 8. In her final two high school seasons, the two-time Oklahoma Class 3A state champion and reigning Gatorade Girls Cross Country Runner of the Year in the state has firmly established herself as one of the best amateur runners in America.
In 2012, Davis holds the top time nationally in the 3,200 meters (10:48.79), and is 19th in the 5K (17.11).
"I don't think I really realized what it was," Davis said of the national acclaim. "It wasn't necessarily a thought. I realized that there was just so much more out there to reach for. It really opened my eyes that you can be at an elite level at high school."
Davis bypassed the Oklahoma/Arkansas All-Star meet on Nov. 17 in order to qualify for Nike. Needing to finish in the top 10 to qualify for nationals, Davis placed fifth (17 minutes, 38 seconds) out of 170 runners in the Nike Cross South Regional at The Woodlands, Texas.
It will be Davis' second trip to the Nike Nationals, where she placed 36th as a junior. Davis said she'll know what to expect the second time around at Portland Meadows.
Last year at Nike was muddy, but this year a forecast of rain could make it even worse for the competitors.
"At Nike Nationals, you have to get out fast or you'll get eaten up," Davis said. "So you need to get out fast and keep a good pace."
Nike's prestigious race is in its infancy compared to the Foot Locker's. Davis will participate in the 34th annual running of the Foot Locker National Finals, which was started in 1979 in San Diego.
Whereas the top 10 runners from six regions qualify for Nike, only the top 10 from four regional make it to the Foot Locker Finals. At the Foot Locker South Regional on Nov. 24 in Charlotte, N.C., Davis finished fourth (11:17) out of 139 runners.
"Foot Locker is 40 girls all fighting for first place. It's one extreme to another," Davis said of the upcoming meet. "I didn't try for Foot Locker last year because I didn't have the confidence that I could do that (back-to-back national races).
"I've gained a lot more confidence this year in my training and my consistent racing. I'm really more confident than I've ever been."
After the next two weeks, Davis will prepare to help Plainview to another state track and field championship in the spring. Following that, its off to Baylor University, where the 18-year-old committed to toward the end of the high school season.
Page 2 of 2 - "I really do believe that God has allowed me the chance to run at the national level," Davis said. "It's good experience for what I'll experience down the road.
"I'm not stressed. I'm so excited. I'm more than excited, I'm ecstatic."
Erik K. Horne