The Aquinas cross country program began when Shannon Fair was in eighth grade. Two years later, Fair has given the program statewide recognition.
Fair was named to the Georgia Class A All-State team. For her efforts in region and state meets, Fair is The Augusta Chronicle’s girls cross country athlete of the year.
Fair began the season on a strong note by finishing first among individual girls at the Wildwood Park meet on Sept. 8 with a time of 19:18, crossing the finish line 1:10 ahead of the runner-up.
The strong showings continued to bigger meets, as she finished first at the Region 7-A Private Championship on Oct. 24, earning a trip to the Class A Private State Championship as an individual. At that meet in Macon on Nov. 3, Fair finished fifth with a time of 19:42.68.
“It was really fun and I’m glad I got to represent the school,” she said.
For her accomplishments, Fair was named to the all-state team as a sophomore.
“It’s really neat to be recognized as all-state,” she said. “I’ve never been recognized for anything that big before, and it’s cool. All the support has been amazing. The school has recognized me a lot and I’m grateful for that.”
Just two years ago, Aquinas began its cross country program when coach Craig Cooper recognized the potential that runners showed at St. Mary on the Hill. When Cooper made the move to Aquinas to build the program, Fair immediately became a leader on the team.
“She’s one of the reasons I felt strongly that we needed (a program),” Cooper said. “I knew we had talented kids that didn’t have a chance to run. For her to finish top five and make all- state in a matter of three years is pretty cool. It was definitely worth doing the program for.”
Fair attributed her success this year to tougher training, stepping up long distance and base training last summer in an effort to be ready for the fall season. During the fall, she did more speed work to maintain a level of endurance before the region and state meets.
As Fair continues to progress into her junior year, she isn’t letting early success affect her training or expectations.