For Malia Ellington, there is no offseason.
From the cross country course to the track to the triathlon circuit, Ellington, 16, is always running somewhere.
Just this summer, Ellington, a Community School of Davidson junior, has traveled from Charlotte to Greensboro to California to Brazil and back in her quest to become the most complete runner she can be.
“Running has given me so many opportunities to compete, travel and meet new people, I really don’t like to stop (running) for long,” Ellington said. “I’m always working to see how fast I can go and I far I can push myself in every season.”
After winning NCHSAA 1A state track titles in 800-, 1,600- (state record 5 minutes, 1.37 seconds) and 3,200-meter races last spring, Ellington continued her torrid pace this summer, winning the 3,000 meters at the USA Track and Field National Championships in Greensboro and most recently she won the USA National Triathlon Sprint Nationals in Milwaukee, which she called the “biggest win of her career.”
“I wasn’t expecting to be the top overall female (in Milwaukee – she was first regardless of age),” said Ellington, who is the No. 1 triathlon runner in the nation in her age group (15-19). “I was just trying to win my age group. But it was a huge win for me.”
She also competed in the New Balance Nationals in Greensboro, setting her personal record for the mile (4:55, 11th place), the Powerade State Games in Charlotte, where she set a personal record in the 1,500, despite running it at 11:30 at night.
Ellington said the highlight of her summer was going to Brazil to compete in the Pan American Triathlon championships, where she placed 22nd while getting to represent her country.
Now, she will look to carry that momentum into her CSD cross country season, where she hopes to continue to win championships.
Ellington will get her first chance to win her first NCHSAA (sanctioned) conference championship in the new Southern Piedmont 1A.
Then, she will try to repeat as 1A Midwest champion before competing in the 1A state championships for the first time.
Ellington missed the state championship as a freshman, because she severed tendons in her right ankle and missed four months. She missed last year because she got the opportunity to train at the Olympic Triathlon Training Center in Colorado Springs during the same weekend.
“I’m very excited to finally get a chance to run for a cross country state championship,” she said. “I will also be focused on placing as high as we can as a team. Being a part of the team is great, because a lot of times, I am running for myself.”
Ellington said Community School of Davidson has a strong team with sophomores Marissa and Vanessa Lundsten as well as junior Izzy Krider expected to have strong seasons.
While it may seem hard to top the year Ellington has had, she is always racing against herself.
“I always have a goal in mind and a time I want to beat,” she said, noting she hopes to be running around 17:30 by the end of the cross country season. “I’m always focusing on beating my own (personal record) times. I believe you always have to push yourself to be better.”
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