JAMESTOWN, N.D. (BVM) — In seventh grade, Meghan Ford made a decision to go out for the cross country team at Jamestown High School.
“My brother used to run,” Ford said. “I was going into seventh grade and all the people on the team were trying to convince me to run.”
The effect it had on Ford was instant.
“I went to practice for like two days and then quit all my other sports,” Ford said.
Ford never expected to be where she is today entering her senior year of high school.
“I’ve been shocked by everything that has happened in the last couple of years,” Ford said. “Three years ago, I wouldn’t have expected the accomplishments. I wanted to win state, maybe senior year or qualify for nationals, not get All-American. That wasn’t even on my mind. Sophomore year was kind of an eye-opener for me.”
Leading into her sophomore year of cross country, she was already coming off a track season where she won state in the 1600-meter run, took second in the 3200-meter race and third in the 800-meter run as a freshman.
Then as a sophomore, Ford won the individual NDHSAA Class A cross country state championship. She also won the Western Dakota Association championship, the Devils Lake Invitational, the Blue-White Invitational and the Andrew Carlson Distance Challenge. She took 16th at the Foot Locker Midwest Regional Championships and 17th at the Nike Cross Nationals Heartland Regional championships.
To cap off her season, she was named the 2019 Gatorade North Dakota Girls Cross Country Runner of the Year. Then came her spring track season where Ford repeated as the 1600-meter state champion, won the 3200-meter run, and took fourth in the 800-meter.
“I started setting really big goals for myself,” Ford said. “I mean, I’ve blown away my expectations already so I feel like the sky’s the limit. … I just really enjoy pushing myself; it’s so rewarding.”
That mentality followed her into her junior year. In the fall of 2019, Ford repeated as both the state champion in cross country and as the Gatorade North Dakota Girls Cross Country Runner of the Year. However, she would add a new accomplishment when she was named an All-American.
At the 2019 Nike Cross Nationals (NXN) in Portland, Ore., Ford finished 21st, earning her the final spot for receiving All-American status.
Heading into the track season, Ford was ready to go for a three-peat in the 1600, defend her title in the 3200 and finally get a championship in the 800. Unfortunately that wouldn’t be possible as all high school spring sports were canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It’s been hard to do workouts alone,” Ford said. “It’s just not as fun without your team. It’s not the same. I’m definitely not going to take it for granted anymore.”
Even without the track season, Ford’s impressive rise to the upper echelon of high school runners has not gone unnoticed.
“There’s a lot of people around the Dakotas that see my times and watch me race,” Ford said. “They go to my meets and cheer me on that I don’t even know who they are.”
She still can’t believe it, but appreciates all those who have cheered her on and is humbled by it.
Colleges have also taken notice, and although she hasn’t made a decision yet, Ford will have plenty of high-quality programs to choose from when she does finally make her decision.
As for her final year of high school, Ford is still pushing herself to do even better than she did last year.
“I want to get top 5 at NXN,” Ford said.
As well as continue her string of state championships in both cross country and track. Regardless, as Ford said, “sky’s the limit.” Everyone will just have to pay attention to see just how high she’ll go.