She almost didn’t compete at all.
The day before Friday’s CCU Invitational at The Hackler Course, Carolina Forest standout Lisa Pieterse came down with a nasty cold that nearly derailed her.
“I really felt so ill yesterday I didn’t even know if I was going to run,” the junior cross country standout said. “I think I came down with a cold. There was a headache and I was just so tired.”
What a difference a day can make.
Pieterse dug deep and finished in a record-setting time of 18:35.40, demolishing the previous high school mark of 20:07 set in 2007.
Chatter on the walkie-talkies encapsulated the amazing run.
“Carolina Forest is going to annihilate this record,” a race official said.
Pieterse finished nearly three minutes ahead of second place finisher Benjamin Jenerette of North Myrtle Beach (21:08.58). Carolina Forest’s Chloe Earnest, a freshman, finished third in 21:24.62.
Putting Pieterse’s accomplishment in perspective, she placed third out of 165 high school runners, combining both male and female participants.
Her time was also third fastest of all 65 Division I and Division II collegiate runners who competed later.
Only Coastal Carolina University’s Kyla Van Graan (17:55.14) and Emily Marchini (18:24) recorded quicker times.
Pieterse’s winning time is far from her fastest.
In a high school meet Sept. 3, she crossed the finish line in 17:35, more than 90 seconds faster than the previous course record of 19:07 and 21 seconds faster than the 2012 Class AAAA state meet winning time of 17:56.
At the Hackler Course event, Pieterse said race officials changed the course back to its original layout, which she said is more challenging.
“The course was harder than usual, so I’m not relying on my time, but it’s a good time for the course so I’m satisfied,” she said.
Pieterse is the daughter of Zola Pieterse, formerly Zola Budd, a two-time world record holder in the 5,000-meter race.
The younger Pieterse says she draws inspiration from her mother’s accomplishments, but emphasizes that her mother doesn’t micromanage her running.
“She made me run when I was younger, but just to stay healthy and active,” she said. “I won a local meet in my age group and that influenced me, it clicked that maybe I have talent.”
Also finishing in the Top 10 for Carolina Forest was junior Caitlyn Pente, who placed eighth in 23:16.
Other top girls runners included Danielle Silvestri, 14th (24:22.77); Alia Sadek, 22nd (26:10.08); Maryland Lewis, 24th (26:20.26) and Lyndsey Soto, 28th (27:34.71).
Carolina Forest won the team event with 48 points. Aynor took second with 56 points while Conway (56) finished third.
In boys action, the Carolina Forest boys’ team also proved it’s a force to be reckoned with.
The Panthers placed four runners in the top 10 in the 96-man field en route to a team victory with 33 points.
Senior Robert Reardon finished in second, running the course in 18:27. Three more Panthers finished in the top 10, including 8th grader Michael Pieterse in 19:04, junior Nick Beale in 19:06 and junior Stephen Ciaramitaro 19:07.
Myrtle Beach finished with two runners in the top 10, three from Aynor and one from Conway.