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GREENSBORO, North Carolina — Now that she’s bested the 800-meter runners in Texas, Marble Falls High School incoming sophomore Bailey Goggans has been crisscrossing the country to race against the top young athletes in the United States.

What a learning experience it has been so far.

“It’s opened her eyes to running on a national level,” said her summer track coach, Anthony Torns. “She composed herself well.”

“The competition is a lot faster,” Goggans said. “It was a great experience to run with every single girl. They are tops in the nation. It was a good learning experience.”

Goggans, who won the 800-meter Class 5A state championship in May, finished 12th in the race in 2 minutes and 9.76 seconds in the championship division of the New Balance Nationals Outdoor meet June 15-17 in North Carolina. That was two-tenths of a second faster than her personal best, which she set a week earlier at the Brooks PR Invitational in Seattle.

“She got bumped and elbowed a couple of times,” Torns said about her Greensboro race. “That was more of a physical race. Competitive running on the (national) level, there’s a little bit of jostling and pushing and shoving. She held her composure and finished very strong.”

She finished sixth in the 400 meters in 55.85 seconds in the emerging elite division, which is a step below the championship division.

“It gave her an opportunity to run against national competition,” Torns said. “She ran her first 200 meters a little too fast. Overall, it was a great experience.”

In Seattle, Goggans ran a 2:09.99 in the 800-meter event to place sixth overall. She was the only sophomore in the race. Athletes are invited to compete in the meet based on their times and distances during the high school track season.

Since she didn’t run that time in a University Interscholastic League-sanctioned meet, it doesn’t count toward a new school record.   

As she exited the track in Seattle, Goggans told Torns she knew what she did wrong, and that’s a sign she is learning the value of thinking through a race as much as performing.

Goggans was the youngest runner in both meets, often facing athletes who were at least two years older and some who are entering college in the fall.

The goals going into the two meets were simple: set personal records and gain experience.

She accomplished both.

Still, the Lady Mustang wants to shave two seconds off her 800-meter time, something she believes she can do.

“A lot of it comes in the last 20 meters,” she said. “You have to finish strong and have endurance to pick up the pace.”

Torns noted the winning times were at 2:04, adding Goggans must still mature physically as well as strategically to be able to post those times.

“Her body from the training perspective, she has to mature and her training hasn’t gone to 2:04 yet,” he said. “There’s a lot of things she needs to improve on mechanically and technically. As long as she improves slightly, she is improving in the right direction.”

During the spring high school meets, Goggans was fast enough to run away from trouble and was rarely boxed in. At these national meets, she is racing athletes who can match her speed but have the experience to set the pace and keep her from maneuvering out of trouble.

“When you get to the high levels, there is strategy to running those races,” Torns said. “She had to experience those situations. She wasn’t able to work her way out.

She is training for the Texas Amateur Athletic Federation meet on July 26-29 in College Station.

“She’s had a great start to the summer,” he said. “I’m extremely proud and grateful for what she’s been able to do this year.”