Posted Online: Nov. 29, 2012, 9:38 pm

2012-13 Dispatch/Argus Metro Girls' Runner of the Year: Moline's Haley Verbeke

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By Chris Steele, chrissteele@qconline.com

Haley Verbeke was on the verge of cross country history.

The Moline senior entered the Western Big 6 Conference meet with three individual titles, standing one victory short of setting a league mark.Ultimately, she fell short in her quest finishing second to Galesburg's Stephanie Saey in her final Big 6 meet.

Yet, Verbeke was historic in her own right.

Verbeke was the front-runner for her team as they captured a fourth consecutive Big 6 title. She also reached the state meet for the fourth time in her career.

Never settling for anything less than her best, Verbeke's career was unforgettable, leading to her being named the Girls' Metro Runner of the Year by The Dispatch and The Rock Island Argus for the third consecutive season.

Where you disappointed about not winning the Western Big 6 conference championship individually?
"It was my goal to win it for a fourth season, and I really worked hard to try to achieve that goal. However, Stephanie Saey was just a step ahead of me. I couldn't have run the race any differently. So I think because we won as a team, it was less disappointing because my teammates were so happy, and I was so glad to be a part of that."

What surprised you most this season?
"The early improvement on my times surprised me. I had really fast times early on after passing out at the Western Big 6 opener, but I was able to rebound quickly. Our team placing well in some of the bigger races like our fourth-place finish against some of the Chicago schools was a nice surprise."

Anything that you feel like you learned about yourself this season?
"I feel like I matured more this year as far as what I can do and how far I have improved. It has shown me that there is more room for improvement for years to come. It shows that once you grow and reach your full potential, you will keep getting faster."

What's a favorite moment for you this season?
"I would say at sectionals. Getting the chance to compete at state as a team again. The girls were really into it because we really wanted to make it to state after last season. Placing third in sectionals was exciting because we didn't just barely make it. We were up among the top teams."