Norah Pearson

Knoxville freshman Norah Pearson had it going in the fast lane at the 2019 State Cross Country Meet in Fort Dodge. She finished in 5th place in Class 3A.

Knoxville cross country freshman sensation, Norah Pearson, is rapidly making a name for herself.

She qualified for the State Cross Country Meet in Fort Dodge with a strong effort at the State Qualifying Meet in Pella the week before.

Athletes were facing not only a strong field of athletes at the State Meet, but also bitter cold conditions and a brisk wind. The temperature for race time was low 40s.

None of that seemed to faze the Panther freshman. She finished the Class 3A State Meet in 5th place overall with a run of 18:46 over the 5K course.

The winning individual time was turned in by Adrianna Katcher of Center Point-Urbana with a clocking of 18:29

Pearson described her race, “I was near the back of the pack early on. A few runners went out too fast at the start. Around the two-mile mark I worked my way into the top 10.”

She added, “I was really nervous leading up to State. I felt a lot of pressure, but at this point in the season you realize it is the amount of work you put in and I couldn’t change that now.”

Panther co-head coaches Michael and Mikayla Splavec noted that Pearson’s time was good for a new Panther school record.

The old 5K Panther mark was 18:56 set by Pearson in the first meet of the year around the Knoxville High School grounds. Her time at the August event was 18:56.

Her run in Fort Dodge beat the old mark by 10 seconds.

Mikayla Splavec stated, “Our approach for State didn’t change much. The plan was to start the race smart and get faster throughout the race. Attack up the hills and use them to pass.”

The coaches said the idea was to keep Pearson in the frame of mind that she was running a regular race and to keep her own pace.

Michael Splavec added, “Norah is a determined competitor. She wants more and we are very proud of her.”

Odds and Ends

Norah was a South Central Conference Champion in early October.

Only Ashley Larson in 2005 and Sharlet Bailey in 1993 were league champions in the sport for Knoxville prior to Pearson’s performance. Bailey was a Twin Cedars student running on the Panther team.

Perry Bell can be reached at or by calling the newsroom at 641-842-2155.

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