Marlee Starliper's first loss of the 2017 running season is hardly a disappointing one.
The Northern York High School sophomore took that "L" on Saturday morning in the Foot Locker Cross Country National Championships, where she finished 13th against the best in the nation.
"It wasn't what I wanted or anything, but I still learned from it," the York County runner said over the phone Saturday evening.
The reigning District 3 and PIAA girls champion finished in 18 minutes, 4 seconds in San Diego's Balboa Park, barely a minute off Claudia Lane's (Malibu, California) championship pace, and just four seconds short of a Top 10 finish.
Starliper said the first mile was a few seconds off her target of 5:24, but she felt great nonetheless. The race leaders didn't get out as quickly as she expected and around the midway point she was in second. But she faded inside the last mile, perhaps due to the time change and not eating on her normal schedule, her father surmised after the race.
"I was really happy with the first two miles of the race. It was great running with those girls," she said. "My body kind of shut down more [at the end], I'm not sure why.
"I really think that my last mile, my body couldn't match my mind today."
Starliper, who gets a well-deserved break for a few weeks before the start of the indoor track and field season, still wants to take positives away from it. Assuming she makes another visit to Balboa Park in the next two years, she'll likely have a better feel for the schedule and time change.
"Is similar to what I took away from states last year," Starliper said, comparing Saturday to her second-place finish in the PIAA championship as a freshman. "It wasn't everything I wanted, but I learned from it. "
The finish came a few weeks after Starliper won the Northeast Regional by five seconds, qualifying her for her first national meet. She did not lose a varsity race all season as she coasted to postseason gold medals.
She was one of just two sophomores in the top 15 of the race, with one freshman also in the mix.