Mallory Young does not have a nickname. But for those interesting in giving one to the Signal Mountain junior cross-country runner, "Bulldog" is not an option.
Young leads a group of Lady Eagle runners anxious to compete for a Class A/AA state championship. She was a Times Free Press Best of Preps honoree in 2012 -- a season that started by her winning a Cross-Country League meet at Chickamauga Dam, and ended with her placing sixth in the state meet at Percy Warner Park in Nashville.
But it was the meet prior to Chickamauga that opened her eyes about her ability to compete.
"Last year at the jamboree, I didn't know I was good. But then I dropped four minutes off my time at the last jamboree," Young said. "That's when I said that I could have a good season because I was hanging with the people in front of me.
"All of a sudden, I was shooting to win -- not just trying to finish."
She upped her training over the summer from 30-35 miles a week after her freshman season, to somewhere between 40 and 45 this past summer. The Lady Eagles won the Region 4-A/AA meet as a team and were seventh in the A/AA state meet last season, and return six of their top seven runners from that team.
"We have a shot to be really good as a girls' team. We have a solid top five," she said. "I don't think we've been this good before, so we're going to have to see how this plays out, but we're trying to be top-3 at the state meet this season."
The Lady Eagles will be on the short list of teams expected to compete for a state title. Meanwhile, Young will be a target because of her 2012 success, but that's no problem. She has no problem explaining her success as being part of a good team.
"I always race to win," she said. "I don't look at myself as being a 'person to beat,' because there are always better athletes out there. It depends on how bad you really want it and how the season goes. Everyone wishes they could be that person, but I haven't raced a lot of the girls out there this year.
"I enjoyed winning [the Chickamauga race] last year, but the best moment was when our team won the region. If I had to choose between winning state individually or as a team, I'd chose the team with no problem."
Contact Gene Henley at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6311. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/genehenleytfp.