Salute to Seniors: Samantha Facius

Facius' best individual performance of her season track season came at the Pikesville Track Classic when she ran away from a talented field with a personal-best 11:03.89 3200. (Photo by Craig Amoss)

Samantha Facius made her mark on the Maryland cross country and track season early on; as a freshman, she finished third at the IAAM cross country championships. From then on, she started racking up the individual titles. Facius leaves Mount de Sales having won ten individual IAAM titles (nine during track, one during cross country).

Her impact went even further than her individual excellence, however. During her time as a Sailor, she was often the anchor on some of the best relay teams that Maryland has ever seen. Facius ran the leadoff leg on their distance medley team that placed fourth at this year's Penn Relays. She also ran a 2:15 split on their sprint medley team that ran 4:01 and finished fourth at New Balance Outdoor Nationals in 2018. She will compete for the University of Maryland starting this fall.

Name: Samantha Facius

School: Mount de Sales High School

What was your most memorable race moment?

I have had a few memorable races over my last four years. The first one that comes to mind is the IAAM cross country championship in 2017. I had thought about this race all season and was working to win it. I went into the race calm, but excited. I had a race plan in my mind. I stuck behind the leaders the whole race and with 800 meters left I took off. Crossing the finish line with a new personal best and an IAAM title was such a great feeling.

The other memorable race I will never forget as the first time my relay team received an All-American title. My junior year at outdoor nationals our 1600 SMR was placed into the second out of six heats. Since we were in a slower heat, we knew we were running against the clock. Running the 800 anchor leg, I was handed the baton in first. I was put in a great position and wanted to push myself to keep working. I wanted to finish strong for my team. When I crossed the finish line, we all knew we had run a great time - but there were also four heats left. We prayed together, thanking God for a great race as we anxiously stood on the infield waiting for the other heats to finish. When the last heat finished and we realized we finished fourth, a rush of emotions flooded our bodies. It was an indescribable moment that I will never forget.

Who would you consider your biggest competition over your four years?

I would say that my competition varied over the years. My freshman year I found myself competing with girls who are now going to be my teammates at the University of Maryland. I was never in a race with Claudia Dolan or Anna Coffin but I found myself competing with them, predominantly in the 1600, to be the number one freshman.

My sophomore year I found my competition in the IAAM. I would run into Emily Craig from Maryvale Prep not just in the league, but at invites as well. I had always looked up to her so it was very cool when I got on her level and was able to compete with her.

Though I did not have any single direct competitor my junior year, I found plenty of competition my senior year from my own team. Juliette Whittaker was my number one competitor. This was a whole new kind of competition; it was friendly competition. I was happy for her when she had a good day, and vice versa. We also used our competitive natures to push each other in practice and in races. Even though I would get outkicked sometimes, Juliette helped pull me along to new PRs that I may never have gotten without her.

What was your greatest accomplishment?

Over the last four years my greatest accomplishment was either breaking the five-minute barrier in the mile of earning two All-American titles at nationals.

If you could do it all over again, what would you change about your running career in high school?

Looking back on my four years, I had a lot of fun in all my training and in my racing. I tried to absorb and appreciate every second of it. I worked hard in every practice and never gave up on myself. However, if I had to change one thing, I would change my mindset going into races. I always had big goals and expectations; I put a lot of pressure on myself going into big races. I didn't ever want to let myself or my coach down. Of course, I had fun with it, but I wish I hadn't put so much pressure on myself. It is something I must learn, but it is hard because I have such a passion for running and a competitive nature.

What were the most difficult obstacles you had to overcome?

The most difficult obstacle I had to overcome time and time again were my injuries. Freshman through junior year I had three different injuries that stopped my from running an entire season, or shut me down just before I was about to peak in a season. Each time I was injured, I was devastated. Being told you can't do something you love is greatly upsetting and hard to overcome. Each time I was injured I knew I couldn't give up, no matter how badly I wanted to. I had to let the injuries fuel my fire to come back harder and stronger.

What will you miss the most?

I will miss my coach, Webs, along with my team so much. Along the way I have made some special friendships, especially with Bella Whittaker. We have shared some very special moments on the track. They have all been so good to me and supported me every step of the way in everything I did. Webs helped me grow up. I started as a 14-year-old girl who knew absolutely nothing about running and he taught me to be a strong woman who has a passion for the sport of running.

Facius ran a personal best 5:02 in the full mile at the 2018 John Hay Distance Festival.

What advice would you give to younger athletes?

Running is an extremely difficult sport, of course physically, but mostly mentally. Don't let a negative mindset get in the way of you and the finish line. Always remain positive and confident each time you toe the line. When it hurts the most, push yourself even harder. Lastly, always work hard. Stay dedicated to the sport, what you put in is what you will get out of it.

What influence has your coach had with respect to your performance and overall life goals?

Webs has had a great influence on my performances as a Sailor. There were countless races where I would want to give up, but I would see Webs and he would be encouraging me and yelling splits on the sideline. Every time I would hear him yell, it would remind me why I ran and push me further than I ever thought I could go. I would not have accomplished the things I did in high school if it weren't for him. He always believed in me and never gave up on me. Even when reaching those goals seemed impossible, I always trusted in what Webs had to say and reached for the stars. Webs has changed my life in so many ways, but the number one way he changed it was giving me the confidence I need not only as an athlete, but as a whole person.

What are your college plans?

I am excited to say that I will be running cross country and track for the University of Maryland. I am beyond excited to have the opportunity to compete in the Big Ten as well as run on the same team with girls who I have competed against from other teams in Maryland over the last four years. I know and trust that Coach Valmon, Coach Siebert and Coach France will help lead me and the Terps to success!

Who would you like to say "thank you" to?

I would like to say thank you to my parents. They made sure to be there at every single race I ran in high school and I know they plan to travel to watch me in college. They both always had something positive to say after every race no matter the outcome. I would also like to thank my coaches for getting me to where I am and constantly encouraging me. A special thank you to Mr. Williams for always happily holding my ponytail as I tossed my cookies after a few races. I would also like to thank him for his encouraging words after races. Thank you to everyone who believed in me and encouraged me. I will forever cherish everything Maryland high school cross country and track has given me.