It's easy to say Jessie Proehl never has been in this spot before.
And that's true enough, on the surface of it. In fact, Proehl hits this weekend as the first female -- as far as anybody can remember, at least -- to compete in the Mid East Cross County Championships, which will go off this weekend at Indian Riffle Park in Kettering.
But there's more to it. This race is removed from the state meet -- in which Proehl ran an 18:37 and finished eighth - but still is attached to her high school career. That's where things get a little strange.
"I've never run a race by myself," she said. "Not without at least one teammate there with me. Even the fun-runs we do during the summer, the 5K races, I always have at least one person there with me."
Not this weekend.
Proehl got the nod as one of 12 Ohio runners to represent the state at this weekend's exhibition. She was the only Zane Trace runner to make the cut, and the only girls runner from the area to ever make the list in the race's 26-year history.
"I'm sure it's a strange place for her to be," Pioneers coach Jennifer Johnston said. "Everybody else has kind of started their break from running right now, but she's still out there running and preparing. And she's working hard."
That's the line Proehl still is trying to understand about the upcoming All-Star race, which will feature the top 12 runners from Ohio and the top runners from Illinois, Indiana and Michigan, as well. Is it a serious race, where everybody is going all out? Or is it a Pro Bowl-type deal, where everybody is just happy to be there?
"I'm sure to some people that's what it is," she said. "But for some people, they're going to be there to show everything they can do."
"Jessie is very driven," Johnston said. "Some of the people in this race know that this is one more chance to go out and run a signature race, and Jessie trained so hard leading up to the state meet that I'm sure it hasn't worn off. And she's had two weeks off to kind of rest and get ready for this. It's going to be interesting to see how she performs."
However the numbers work out, Proehl knows it's a big chance to run against a big field.
"I went to an Ohio State camp this summer, and I met two of the girls who are going to be in the race," she said. "And I know Meghan (Vogel, from Salem) is going to be there, and so is (Marissa Rossetti), the girl from St. Vincent St. Mary's (who finished ninth in the state). I'm excited to meet a lot of the people I'll be running with. It's going to be fun to be up there."
The weekend starts today at the course outside Dayton, where Team Ohio will gather for a look at the course and a team dinner.
"It's going to be nice to get together as a team and get that feeling around everybody else before we have to race," Proehl said. "I've never ran anywhere close to Dayton before, so it will be nice to get a feel for the course, but it's also going to be nice to have a chance to get to know some of the other girls. I enjoy meeting other people and that's kind of how I'm approaching it."
That and her always-present idea of besting what she's already done.
"I just want to go out and break my own record," Proehl said. "And this is a great group to try to do that with, that's what I'm thinking. This is some of the best runners, and we're supposed to be a team, so hopefully we can kind of push each other."
"Jessie is always interested in doing what's best for her team," Johnston said. "And this time when she goes over to run, she knows she's going to be representing Ohio, so I'm sure she's going to take a lot of pride in that. She had very humble beginnings to her running career, and this is a great chance for her to race in front of a lot of people. She's used running as kind of a springboard to a lot of other things."
Proehl and the rest of Team Ohio will hit the course in the Mid East Cross Country Championships at 11 a.m. Saturday.