Stahlberger turns brother's advice into love of running

WEST COLUMBIA -- Siblings don't always take each other's advice, but Megan Stahlberger gives credit to her older brother, Kevin, for helping her to succeed at cross country.

When Megan was in third or fourth grade -- she's not exactly sure which one -- her brother told her that when she got a little older she should start running cross country.

Megan said that at the time she thought her brother was "crazy," but a few years later she began playing soccer.

"I had friends who ran cross country and played soccer, and they told me that I should try cross country," she said.

Megan still competes in soccer, but she's also become pretty good at cross country. In fact, this week she was named high school female Runner of the Week by, presented by Go-Green Timing and On On Tri.

The Airport High School junior earned the honor after finishing first in the varsity 5,000-meter run at the Lake Murray Invitational at Crooked Creek in Chapin with a time of 18:38.25.

It wasn't her best time in the cross country 5,000. That came the previous week at the Lexington County Invitational where she finished that course in an impressive 18:27, the top time in the state this season.

Megan said she learned about the honor from from her coach, Paul Drohomirecky, during practice earlier this week.

"I was surprised and happy," Stahlberger said.

Megan finished five seconds ahead of the second-place finisher at the Lake Murray Invitational. She credits her past experience there for her good showing this year.

"I've run out there almost every year since seventh grade," the Cayce native said. "I know the course pretty well."

Megan said she became hooked on cross country after her father asked Coach Drohomirecky about then-seventh grader about joining the team.

"I absolutely love it," she said.

Her coach says Megan is a pleasure to have on the team.

"She is an incredible hard worker and smart runner," Drohomirecky said. "Every year since her seventh-grade year we've come up with a goal for her and she has accomplished that goal at the state meet every year."

At the start of this season Megan set some personal goals, including shaving another 12 seconds off her personal best set at the Lexington County meet.

"I'd just like to keep improving," she said.

The junior said she will likely continue running once she graduates high school next year, though probably not competitively.