Running on reserves, Harmon emerges with state title

Running on reserves, Harmon emerges with state title

CHARLESTON — Jordan Harmon and Olivia Rosenstein are good pals.

The recent shared history between Harmon, a Unity senior, and Rosenstein, an Urbana junior, includes suffering simultaneous leg injuries and qualifying for Class 2A state this season in both the 1,600-meter run and 3,200.

But Harmon had to be getting sick of following Rosenstein on the track.

At the 2A Unity Sectional earlier this month, Rosenstein outkicked Harmon over the last 400 meters of both distance races to get the upper hand on her buddy.

Harmon returned the favor Saturday. On the biggest stage possible.

Rosenstein took off for what's become her patented 400-meter kick in the 3,200 finals, and Harmon slowly reeled her in before passing Rosenstein on the homestretch to earn her first individual state title.

"I don't have anything against her," Harmon said, "but I had to be in competitor mode and not friend mode."

That produced a clocking of 11 minutes, 9.06 seconds for Harmon, narrowly topping Rosenstein's time of 11:09.82.

Extreme discipline was required from Harmon as she and Rosenstein grouped up with Morton's Aspen Gordon and Staunton's Lydia Roller for the last few laps at Eastern Illinois' O'Brien Stadium.

"Every time we passed the 400 line I was like, 'OK, don't go yet. Don't go yet. Just be patient,'" Harmon said. "With the wind, and we were all still in a pack, I was like, 'There's still a chance.'"

It seemed like the opportunity evaporated when Rosteinstein picked up the pace while the last-lap bell rang in the background.

That's when Harmon broke into her energy reserves.

"(I was) believing in myself," Harmon said. "Believing that I do have a kick as a distance runner."

Harmon settled for 29th place at the most recent 1A girls' state cross-country showcase last November, not back to full strength after what she described as a "nine-month-long injury."

Knowing Saturday offered the Creighton signee one final chance to show exactly why she'll be running at the Division I level, Harmon capitalized. And then some.

"This is my last season," Harmon said, "and (I was) just believing in myself that this season is the time for my comeback."

Both Harmon and Rosenstein came back later for the 1,600, but there wasn't quite the same thrilling finish between the pair. Harmon secured the last 2A medal in ninth, while Rosenstein landed in 10th.

Harmon recalled the two sharing plenty of conversations when both were laid up and unable to compete. How they encouraged one another and recognized they could recover from their respective roadblocks.

That's what made Saturday's two-mile finish oh so appropriate. Maybe the only thing missing was the duo stopping the clock at the same time.

"Before mile prelims (Friday) she looked at me, and she was like, 'We don't have broken legs, and we're on the start line,'" Harmon said. "And I was like, 'You're right!' Just really enjoying being here."