Shrine Bowl Run Interview: Mari Cagle Lockhart of Daniel

Name: Mari Cagle Lockhart
Hobbies: playing violin, participating in Youth Group, spending time with family
Academic interest: Mechanical Engineering
Personal bests: 5K 17:59, 3200m 10:57, 1600m 5:12

What does it mean to be named to the Shrine Bowl Run team and helping the hospital?
I am honored to have the opportunity to participate in this tradition. This is especially meaningful to me because I was treated at Shriners Hospital when I was attacked by an off-leash German Shepherd in the eighth grade. I had to have seventeen stitches and was out for a month of my track season. It is special to be able to support Shriners in this way.

What did you hear about the Shrine Bowl Run before this year?
I heard from former teammates how special the experience was, so I have been looking forward to potentially making the team since the seventh grade!

What do you hope to experience during The Run?
I hope to be able to talk with all the senior runners who I've been competing with since the seventh grade. It will be really special to remember the past six years of our cross country seasons while running for such a truly inspiring cause.

How are you preparing to run with a football?
At practice, we often have to run the warmup with our water bottles, and hopefully, a football won't be much different. I have two younger brothers, and I am often in the yard with them throwing the football. I am looking forward to the experience!

How would you rate your senior season?
My senior season was very different from what I imagined. Two of my best friends and XC teammates since seventh grade (Maren & Eliza Sorber) moved to Africa before the season started. I have never run a season without them. We did have a lot of new girls make varsity this year, and I enjoyed getting to know them and being able to "show them the ropes". Winning my fourth state title was the highlight of my season - I hope to remember that day forever. I didn't PR this year, but overall, I am very proud of my effort this season. I think I have grown about seven inches since I won my first state title in the 8th grade, so I am fortunate that I was able to continue to run fast through all of that growth.

What future goals do you have?
This track season, I want to hit 10:45 in the 3200m and get close to 5:05 in the 1600m.

Have you made the decision to compete at the next level? Please explain.
In November, I signed with Georgia Tech to run XC and track! I could not be more excited to join the amazing group of girls and coaches next year. Coach Drosky and Coach Megesi have been so supportive of me, and I can't wait to be a Yellow Jacket! Both Coach Drosky and Coach Megesi are former Georgia Tech distance athletes (both are in the GT Hall of Fame as distance runners). Coach Drosky has been coaching at Georgia Tech since 1987 and Coach Megesi has been there since 2001. There is a strong commitment to distance running, and I am anxious to learn from them - they have had a lot of success!

How did you get involved with the sport and when?
I was competing in distance swimming, but wanted to try something else. Previously I tried softball, soccer, and basketball, but I didn't enjoy the one-on-one contact aspects of those sports. My friends convinced me to join the cross country team, and it took a lot of convincing because I really didn't like running. It took me a few months to get into it, but I'm so glad that I decided to join the team! I hope to run and train for races for as long as I am physically able.

Do you have any relation or know someone that has attended the Shriners Hospital?
I was treated at the Shriners Hospital after a dog attack when I was in eighth grade. The nurses and doctors at Shriners were amazing - I was a traumatized thirteen-year-old girl, and they took care of my physical and emotional wounds.

How have you seen the sport change in the state? Please explain.
It seems that there is more participation now than a few years ago. This has been the case in my region, at least. It takes faster times to achieve all-region and all-state honors. Hopefully the participation will continue to increase because cross country teaches so many lessons about the benefits of consistent focus and hard work towards measurable goals. It also requires a lot of time management focus to get your daily workouts completed. These are lessons that are transferable to many other situations.

What was your motivation for your final XC season?
My team lost three of our top five girls from last season to this season, so we had a lot of new girls make varsity and score for the team. I was motivated to help them navigate their first season on varsity and to make them feel empowered to compete their best. Also, I was motivated to reclaim my state title this year.

If there is one thing in the world you could do, what would it be and why?
There are many things that I'd like to do in life. I've been very blessed to have incredible people as my coaches and teachers at Daniel High School. I am sure that it will take a lot of "growing up" before I will fully realize how much of a positive impact Coach Paul Dawson and Coach Ashley Perry have had on my life. If there is one thing that I could mention to you that I would like to do...I would say that I hope to be able to make a positive impact on others - one that is significant and meaningful.