Meghan Pierson was coming off her fastest 5,000-meter time, 18 minutes, 37 seconds, an all-state time in the 2018 Class AA Cross Country Meet.
Ready to hit the track running in the spring, right? Wrong.
A stress fracture cost the Chanhassen runner the entire track season. And mentally most of her junior cross country season this fall.
Were the days of sub-19 minute times behind her?
Qualifying for the state meet for the fourth consecutive season, the switch was flipped Nov. 2 for Pierson on the St. Olaf course in Northfield. Pierson showed she's back to 100 percent.
Pierson posted a time of 18 minutes, 57.3 seconds, to place 32nd overall.
"Today felt really great. I know it was a little slower than last year and I placed a little further back but it felt like I'm really back. It takes a while to come back from stress fracture, physically and more mentally. I finally felt like my old self again. Racing," Pierson said.
Sixty-fifth as an eighth grader (19:58), Pierson ran 18:56.6 for 27th as a freshmen before her first all-state finish in 2018.
Pierson expects to get back to that spot next season.
Being under 19 minutes again seemed unlikely two weeks ago. A fall at the Metro West Conference Championships, a sixth-place finish as the defending champion, left doubts.
Pierson came back nine days later to place fourth in the Section 2AA Meet. How would she fare at the state meet?
"I felt so much happier. Really in it. We got out fast which was great. I felt strong. I feel like I'll be a lot more confident for track season now," Pierson said.
Chanhassen, competing as a team at state for the first time since 2013, was 16th overall with a score of 425. Edina was the overwhelming champion with 55 points followed by Wayzata (109) and St. Michael-Albertville (115).
Besides Pierson, the rest of the Storm roster were first-time state qualifiers.
"We don't have anyone graduating. We have everybody coming back next year, so I see us coming back next year to state as well. It's been so much fun to watch them all train, watch them all push each other on, to be better and help each other out," Pierson said of the Storm team.
Marissa Long and Isabelle Roemer were 142nd and 164th in times of 20:21.5 and 20:59.7.
Madeleine Hauck (21:49.9), Rachel Gallagher (21:53.3), Ammisalin Gilman (22:03.4), and Jennifer Pierson (22:13.2) ran near the back of the field for Chanhassen.
"She really went for it this season," said Meghan of her sister, Jennifer, an eighth grader who earned all-conference as the Storm's top finisher. "She wasn't really sure what she was going to do. Run or keep swimming. Apparently she's a really good runner, too."
At season's start, junior Anna Cherian was mid-pack in a deep and talented Minnetonka roster.
By season's end, Cherian was running an all-time best 18 minutes, 49.6 seconds. An all-state finish of 23rd place in Class AA.
Minnetonka had three girls in the field including first-time qualifiers Cherian and eighth grader Ella Graham, who was one spot outside of all-state in 26th place in 18:51.5.
Sophomore Kate LeBlanc was 41st in 19:04.5. for the Skippers.