Eldon coach Tobby Eldridge knew there was something special about Faith Parrent when he watched her run in junior high.

Four years later, it turns out that his observation was pretty spot on as the Mustang senior broke the school record twice, finished as an All-Conference and All-District runner and just put up the best finish by a female runner at state in school history on Saturday in Jefferson City with a time of 21:05 to finish 43rd in the Class 3 race of 165 runners. According to Eldridge, Parrent’s time was probably over a minute faster than anybody else has ever finished.

“We watched her in junior high and I thought, ‘Man, I cannot wait until that kid gets in high school.’ We knew when she was in seventh and eighth grade that she was going to be a special runner,” Eldridge recalled. “She comes into high school and freshman year she just shatters every mark anybody has ever set forth in our school history and continued to get better each year.

“She is going to graduate, in my opinion, as the best runner we’ve ever had without question. You can have debates in some sports as to who was the top (athlete), but for her there is no question that she is the best we’ve ever had.”

Parrent punched her ticket and qualified for state for the first time this season after narrowly missing out by just a few spots in the district race over the past three years. After earning her spot among the best in Missouri, Parrent said it was an experience she will not soon forget.

“I was definitely overwhelmed. I came in with expectations and it definitely raised the bar from what I thought it was going to be. I have never run here before, but it was definitely an eye-opener,” the senior noted. “Basically leading up to this race, I’ve been really focused on when my last race was going to be… It was definitely a good end to my career having never gone to state and I’m really happy with where I started and where I ended.”

That perseverance Parrent displayed is something Eldridge would like returning and future runners to take note of.

“She did not make it to the state meet as a freshman, sophomore or junior, but it would be easy for a kid to kind of give up going into their senior year and think they are just not going to make it and be able to break through,” the coach stated. “But she did not have that mentality. She came in her senior year and worked harder than she has ever worked. So, I would like all of our young runners to just take that mentality that you are not always going to get the accolades or accomplishments early on, but that does not mean that you stop working.”

Parrent echoed a similar sentiment.

“Senior year is your last chance so give all you got. Give it your all,” she said.

Eldon was back at state after a brief one-year absence and the school’s success on multiple fronts is something Eldridge is more than pleased to see.

“It is always exciting for our program and I think it is just part of our culture at school in general,” he said. “Our boys won a big football game and it is exciting when you have kids moving on to the next round whether it be our FFA (Future Farmers of America) team being second in the nation in Parliamentary Procedure or our girls’ golf team do extremely well. It just helps the culture of our school because kids are just excited to wear the maroon and gold knowing they are represent well at any event we go to.”

Looking ahead, Eldridge said the future of Mustang cross country is pretty bright itself.

“On the girls’ side you could never replace a Faith Parrent. It is just not going to happen, but as a team we have a chance to be stronger because we only graduate one senior girl and boy. As a team, we will be stronger next year than we were this year and for our team as a whole, the future is exciting.”