Mattie Shirley-Fairbairn is a girl on the run. Literally. The Wachter Middle School eighth grader just finished her second year running varsity cross-country and track. As a seventh grader, Mattie took second in the South Dakota state cross-country meet. She was 12 years old at the time, running varsity, running against seniors in high school.
“I got moved up to varsity at the end of my seventh grade year. I ran a couple of varsity meets, then took second at state,” Mattie remembers. “I was so nervous!”
She was also nervous when her family moved to Bismarck last summer; she didn’t know anyone and the thought of making all new friends was scary.
“Moving was hard. But running helped me meet people,” says Mattie.
Mattie ran with the Bismarck High Cross Country team over the summer. Last fall, she ran varsity cross-country for BHS. She once again took second place at the state meet. This spring, she was a star for the Demons on the track.
“I run the 800 meter, 1600 meter, and the 3200 meter races,” says Mattie. “But the 3200 is my favorite because it’s longer so if you don’t have the best start, there’s lots of time to recover.”
She is her own worst critic; Mattie rarely has a bad race. In fact, this spring she broke the record for the fastest 3200m in North Dakota history. She also took first in the 1,600 meter and the 3,200 meter runs at the state track meet, and took second, by one-hundredth of a second, in the 800 meter run.
She did all that while also playing soccer for the Wachter Wildcats and maintaining a perfect 4.0 grade point average.