Claire Stegall makes a name for herself with two TSSAA track titles as a rookie

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MURFEESBORO – Claire Stegall is 5 feet tall and weighs less than 100 pounds.

The Nolensville rookie showed Thursday why she could be the next big thing among Tennessee distance runners.

Stegall won the 1,600 meter race in 4:50.40 – winning by over 15 seconds. She followed that up with a victory in the 3200m in 10:36.16. His time was more than eight seconds faster than second place.

“I’m very surprised to (win both races),” Stegall said. “If you had told me a few months ago, I probably wouldn’t have believed you. It’s just crazy to think that because there are so many good competitions here.”

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The two state titles are the first for Stegall and came after her cross country season was cut short after just two races when she developed a stress fracture.

“I was doing about 15 miles a week in college, and then I kind of jumped to 32 miles,” Stegall said. “I was doing my easy runs too fast.

“I took it back to 20 miles and included a swim to keep the pressure on my legs and it worked well.”

Stegall’s era rivals former Independence star Kathy Kroeger, who later raced at Stanford. Kroeger won the 1,600 and 3,200 as a high school freshman in 4:51.93 and 10:42.48. Stegall’s times were better in every event.

Kroeger won four track titles and four cross country championships during his four years at Independence.

“I’ve heard of her, but I don’t really know who she is,” Stegall said.

Stegall is more concerned with improving as a runner.

“For cross-country, my goals are to get through this healthy, have a good season and be up to it,” Stegall said. “We’ll just see it from there. Next track season, I just want to get through healthy and up to PR.”

Contact Tom Kreager at 615-259-8089 or [email protected] and on Twitter @Kreager.

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