Track Files: Ciara O’Shea, Nike XC Town Twilight champ and KY senior standout

by Steve Underwood

The latest successful track & field (and/or XC) athlete to take the stage in our Track Files series is Ciara O’Shea, who scorched the Lavern Gibson Championship XC Course last weekend to win our Nike XC Town Twilight, Presented by The Garrett Companies, in 16:52 – the 4th fastest ever by a high school girl on the famed layout. It was the first sub-17 in Ciara’s career, besting her previous PR of 17:08 set at last fall’s Great American XC Festival.

“I knew I was ready to go sub 17 minutes,” says the Madison Central (Richmond, Ky.) senior. “I just had no idea it would be in Terre Haute. LaVern Gibson is such a tough course, so it means a lot to me. I think it’s neat to know I was treading in the footsteps of so many other great runners on that course.”

Ciara had planned to try and defend her 2021 title from GAXC last week. “I had that meet on my calendar since last year. I was pleased with how I ran there, and I loved the course.” But the storm from Hurricane Ian manifested and eventually the meet was cancelled. 

Ciara was worried at first, before the final call was made. But then she “just quit worrying and let it be and left it to my mom to chase other arrangements.”  Happily, XC Town was the other arrangement – a course Ciara had already run on and loved, but hadn’t done as well due to a nagging injury. Now she has some fantastic new Lavern Gibson memories to celebrate.

Distance running was not Ciara’s first love, though. “I started my athletic career as a soccer player, as did my brother Conner,” she says. “When Conner made the switch from soccer to running, I followed shortly after.”

In fall of 2019, Conner was a senior and Ciara was a freshman. On a magical November day, both claimed 3A state XC titles – the only time a brother and sister have done so on the same day in Kentucky history.

“Winning state titles together will always be one of my favorite memories,” Ciara says. “Conner is starting his Junior year at East Carolina. He has been fighting stress fractures for the past two years, but it’s finally on the grind back. I still talk to him a lot, and he is more of an inspiration and influence to me than he realizes!”

Ciara still has plenty she’d like to accomplish before she heads off to UNC next fall. “My goals include defending my state title again, then I want to qualify out of EastBay regionals, and run to my potential at nationals. As far as track goes, I just want to run fast! I want to have an opportunity to meet the best girls out there!”

This or That

AF1 or Air Max? AF1

Chipotle or Sweet Greens? Chipotle

Pool or Beach? Beach

Friday Night in and Chill or Party Time!! Friday Night in and Chill

Date: Dinner & Movie or Great Outdoors? Great Outdoors

Sports car or Pick-up truck? Pick-up Truck


Gold medal or World record? Gold Medal


Favorite Song? Nashville, TN by Chris Stapleton

Book? Can’t Hurt Me by David Goggins

Movie? Step Brothers

Dinner? Steak and rice

Animal? Dinosaur

Place? The Beach


Photo by Owen Fink


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