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How Does She Do That? Cross-Country Standout Maryah Nasir

Friday, February 12, 2016

There are great athletes, and then there are special talents. Heathwood Hall sophomore Maryah Nasir is one of those special talents.

Maryah’s claim to fame is distance running. She dominated the 2015 cross country season, winning 7 of the 8 races she competed in. Maryah’s performance earned her a top-5 statewide ranking and the fastest female time in the Midlands. In October, she claimed the  SCISA 3A individual state title, posting not only a new personal record, but also the fastest time in Heathwood Hall history. Maryah is clearly a key addition to the team, but Heathwood has been known for producing strong female runners over the past 10 years: A Lady Highlander has won the individual state championship 5 of the last 6 years.

Heathwood’s only recent state championship loss was to Maryah in 2012 when she was a student at Pinewood Preparatory school, where she began her varsity career as a 6th grader. She made the switch to Heathwood Hall when her family relocated to Columbia. She says that Heathwood was the right place for her because she wanted “the best possible training available” and with the caliber of runners the program has produced, where else would she go? One person overjoyed with her decision is her advisor and cross country/track coach, Willis Ware. Ware says he’s “excited to have such an extremely bright, well-rounded student, and be able to coach her to her full potential.”

Many of today’s superstar athletes devote their lives to enhancing their skills, but Maryah represents the minority. When asked what drives her to keep running, she responded, “I’m actually not the person who loves running, but I don’t hate it either… I’m good at it, so I do it.”  Maryah treats her races like a job in that she arrives in the morning, does her work, and goes home (with a prize of course); however, she is reluctant to turn her sport into a profession. Maryah says that, “running is how I’m going to get to a college, but not all I want to do.”  She’s learned to capitalize on her gift, yet she still understands the importance of a balanced lifestyle. Off of the course, Maryah is an adept drama student. She performs regularly at Upper School coffee houses, where you can find her singing, dancing, or performing the monologue she wrote in the 8th grade. Unfortunately her cross country duties restricted her from participating in this year’s school play, but she intends to find a way to juggle the two in the future. One of Maryah’s best friends and fellow new students, Claire Taylor, testifies that Maryah is “a genuine, fun person to be around,” and is “so happy she came to Heathwood this year.”

This coming spring, Maryah is expected to help the girls track team to another strong season. She’ll be competing in the 800m, 1600m, and 3200m events and will hopefully bring home state championship honors in all three. Maryah jokingly claims, “I’m excited for track season because the races are shorter,” but with her exceptional ability, any race is a short one.