Several schools were in the running down the stretch for Molly Foster, but she really got a kick out of visiting Belmont.
The Science Hill senior distance runner chose the Bruins program over the likes of East Tennessee State, Tennessee and Ole Miss. Foster enjoyed visits to SEC schools where campus tours included seeing impressive football stadiums, but turning down ETSU was ultimately more difficult.
“It definitely was not an easy decision,” Foster said. “I was looking at six or so, and I finally got it narrowed down to three. But as soon as I visited Belmont I knew that was the place I needed to be. The girls are great and the coach is great and it’s just a great atmosphere to be in.”
There were days when Science Hill coach Jennifer Brockett thought Foster would select ETSU.
“She was going back and forth between the two (ETSU or Belmont),” Brockett said. “Both were really good choices. And I know she loved Ole Miss a lot. But she loved the environment, the team and just Belmont as a whole.”
Foster’s career has exemplified the perseverance of distance runners — the inability to give up before you give out.
A nine-time Big Eight Conference champion in track and cross country, Foster was part of a varsity state champion 3,200 meter relay team as an eighth grader. But she essentially limped to the end of her junior season after winning the 800 at the conference meet.
“I had some health problems and got misdiagnosed with hypothyroidism and was on some medicine that slowed me down a lot,” she said. “I also had an overuse injury on my leg at the end of track season last year.”
Foster bounced back to finish sixth in the state cross country meet last fall. It was the third sixth-place finish at the state for Foster, who also finished third in the state as a freshman and second as a sophomore.
“I’ve coached her since eighth grade,” Brockett said. “She’s kind of had some trials and tribulations that it’s been really fun to see her excel through and persevere through. … And she’s looking to have a banner season in track to where she’s gonna hopefully break some records, maybe take down some of Allie’s (Scalf) records.”
Despite her taxing duties, Foster smiled while thinking about how fleeting her high school years have been. Standing on the state champions’ podium as an eighth grader, helping win a state team title in track and cross country, bus trips with teammates and a bond with Brockett have made time fly.
“Coach Brockett always is there for me and tells me what to do,” Foster said, “and has been leading me in the right direction as long as I’ve been running.”
Foster was the 2009 and 2010 State of Franklin Track Club High School Runner of the Year. She was runner up in the state in the 3,200 as a freshman and sophomore, and has a personal best of 11:18. She’s run an 18:20 in a 5K, and is valuable in the 800 (2:22) and mile (5:14).
Foster isn’t certain what will become her specialty at Belmont.
“I’ll do whatever they need me to do,” she said.
Foster was the most outstanding distance runner after being part of victories in three relays (1600, 3200, DMR) last week at the Texas Roadhouse Relays.
“She had a phenomenal day on Saturday up in Kingsport,” Brockett said, “and that was amazing just to watch her come back and be back in it again, where she’d had such a rough season last year. She excels at distance, but I think whatever she puts her mind to she’s gonna do really well at. … Between track and cross country, she’s been phenomenal.”