COLUMBIA – Dreher High’s Savannah Bass ran well last spring at the SCHSL State Championships at Spring Valley, turning in a personal record while finishing sixth in the girl’s 800 meters, but that isn’t what sticks in her mind about that day.
Video: Bass talks about the passing over her mother and the sport.
Josette Bass, Savannah’s mother, was in the stands on that sunny Saturday afternoon, putting aside her longtime struggles with anemia and cancer for a few hours to be there for her daughter.
“What I remember is my mom being there to see it and tell me how proud she was of me,” Savannah told scrunners.com recently.
Josette Bass died Aug. 30, leaving behind Savannah, daughters Summer and Dallas, and husband David. Nine days later, on the morning of her mother’s funeral, Savannah placed first in the JV Girls 5,000-meters at the SCTCCCA Coaches Classic, then joined her family for the 30-minute drive from the Sandhills Research Park to Trinity Church in Mountain Brook where Josette was laid to rest that afternoon.
“I was a little disappointed with my time (20:49, 44 seconds off her PR in the 5,000), but under the circumstances I did well,” Savannah said. “I was so glad I was able to win for my mom.”
Savannah spoke at her mother’s memorial service that afternoon, without notes but “from my heart.”
“I loved her so much and she loved me probably more than I know,” the high school sophomore told family and friends. “My mom was very sick when it came time for me to be born. I was a premature baby but she kept me long enough for me to be alright. She sacrificed her life for me before she even knew me.”
She said her mother came to last year’s state cross country meet “in her wheelchair, all wrapped in a blanket, sacrificing comfort to come see me run and tell me how proud of me she was.”
Jeri Katherine Warden Snipes, an assistant coach at Dreher who has been coaching Savannah since her freshman year at the school, said the two have grown “quite close,” over the past two years.
“I’ve been so proud watching her mature as a runner,” Snipes said. “She went from running 2:35s pretty consistently in the 800 in 2011 to running 2:21 this past season.
“It’s really amazing when you know all the emotional stress she has had to deal with daily,” Snipes said. “She is a strong person who knows how to focus and not let things rile her up.”
Savannah said she hopes to continue running in college, with an ultimate goal of competing in the summer Olympics.
“For me, running is great therapy when you are going through something. It helps clear your head,” she said. “I’m just going to continue doing what I love to do, knowing that my mom is watching from above, cheering me on.”