Bishop Eustace cross-country runner Holly Bischof was a state champion and earned the overall Meet of Champions title the following week in what was a banner senior season that improved upon an outstanding junior year.

After all the success, one question needs to be asked: How well would Bischof have done had she been 100 percent healthy?

Bischof, The Inquirer's South Jersey cross-country runner of the year, was hampered by a shin injury that affected her training and added more than a little discomfort. But it didn't derail her dominance.

"It was a little difficult at first, and I had to get used to it," she said about the shin injury. "It hindered my training, and I wasn't able to do as much with the intensity I wanted to. But I was able to work around it."

That's an understatement. Bischof's ability to deal with adversity was as impressive as her performance in the biggest of meets.

"She worked the problem out, fought through it, and came out a champion in the end," Eustace coach Chris Threston said. "Her day doesn't seem complete unless she gets a good run in, and she really deserves all she has achieved."

Bischof won the Meet of Champions race in a time of 18 minutes, 13 seconds. Last season, she placed second in the Meet of Champions to Highland's Megan Venables, who was a senior.

"It was amazing," Bischof said. "I never thought I would be able to accomplish all of this."

Not only did Bischof fight through her injury this season, she didn't have experience on her side. As a freshman, she played soccer in the fall. But after competing in spring track that season, she switched to cross-country.

So with just three seasons of cross-country experience, her better days appear to be ahead. And those days will be spent at Duke University, where she will study on a cross-country and track scholarship.

She hopes to eventually attend medical school and said Duke has a program that prepares students well for such a career. Her long-range goal is to be an orthopedic surgeon.

As much as Bischof enjoys competing, she is looking forward to getting some well-deserved rest - but not before one last piece of business.

Bischof is among 40 high school runners nationwide who have qualified for the Foot Locker National Championships on Saturday in San Diego. She qualified by finishing fourth in the Northeast Regional competition in New York; the top 10 advanced to San Diego.

"It's very exciting, and I can't wait to go to San Diego," she said.

After that, she expects to take a break, and she hopes the pain in her shin will subside. Actually, there might have been more pain had she not won the MOC. After placing second as a junior, there was only one place to move up.

"There was a little pressure, and I didn't want to disappoint myself, and I wanted to do better, which means I had to win," she said.

So she did.

Contact staff writer Marc Narducci at 856-779-3225, mnarducci@phillynews.com,
or @sjnard on Twitter.
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