A somewhat belated All-State selection came out last week and recognized Tia Baker from the Cassville cross country team for her accomplishments in the fall.
Baker, only a sophomore at Cassville High School, finished as Cassville's top female runner this year and took 124th at state.
Before high school, Baker's running prowess was unknown even to herself, but a friend advised her to join cross country and she did and found that she could not only run, but run well.
When asked about her goals for the upcoming season, Baker said "I just want to continue to do better. It would be nice to get my time under 21 (minutes)." Within the tenure of her high school career, she also hopes to take first, at a meet and also place in the top 50 at state.
Coach Chris Shore said it is Baker's work ethic that sets her apart from other runners.
"Tia is a great kid and has good work ethic," said Shore. "Even since the season ended, I see her run by my house about once a week."
Many runners are good because of their long strides; however, Baker stands at just about 5'1". When asked about how her height might have affected her competition this year, Baker is undeterred and says simply, "It just makes you have to push more at the starting line to get in front."
And Baker is not alone at being successful at cross country at Cassville despite her height. Both Danielle LeCompte and Shradha Samuel, two of Cassville's best female cross country runners in recent history, were of a smaller stature, as well as Baker's teammate Ron'L Hoff.
Baker will also run track in the spring and plans on competing in the 800-meter and 1,600-meter runs.
Baker still has a comfortable amount of time before she decides what she would like to do after high school, but at least for now she would like to run in college.