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Zebras runner has a headband habit

By: Cecil Conley, Sports Editor
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Her pink headband is approaching retirement. Shannon Snook figures it might be good enough for one or two more races. The Lincoln High School senior is already looking for a new one. Two races stand between Snook and the state cross country championships Nov. 13 in Fresno. She qualified for the state meet as a sophomore and came close to doing so again last year. “She has a good shot,” coach Doug Croall said. “She’s been very determined all the way through.” The pink headband has been with Snook since her sophomore year. She even wears it when she is playing soccer. She also has white and blue headbands, along with an array of bandanas. Her white headband is threatening the pink’s supremacy. Snook wore the white one last Friday afternoon when the Zebras hosted the third and final Pioneer Valley League meet of the season. “The pink one’s a little stretched out,” she said. Snook placed seventh in the varsity girls race, and the Zebras finished third as a team. Lincoln also finished third in the varsity boys race behind a fourth-place finish by freshman Kyle Ebert. The postseason road begins Saturday with the Sac-Joaquin Subsection meet in Angels Camp. Snook may opt to wear her pink headband, which has been through thick and thin with her. Snook had it in 2008 when she made it to the state meet. She had it in February 2009 when her right knee suddenly buckled during a soccer match. Her anterior cruciate ligament was torn. “I just scored a goal, so I was all pumped up,” she recalled. “When the other team kicked off, I went for the ball and cut real sharp. (The knee) snapped right there. No one touched me.” Her first thought was she had broken her leg. Snook has heard people say they hear a pop when a ligament tears. She never heard one. All she knew was her leg was hurting and it was bad. The diagnosis of a torn ACL did not come until April after weeks of Snook hearing more opinions about her injury than she cares to count or remember. An MRI finally revealed the damage. The injury spoiled Snook’s bid to return to the state cross country meet as a junior. Once her knee was surgically repaired, she had to rebuild her confidence that she could run without hurting it. “I wasn’t supposed to be all out running,” she said. “I had my knee brace, but I still had to be careful.” Many of Lincoln’s runners play two or more sports, said Croall, who can only hope they can stay healthy enough to compete in cross country. Then again, cross country is a “second sport” to many. “I’ve had kids miss meets because they’ve had other events,” he said. “It’s something we have to work around.” Nothing is going to hold Snook back this season. She is armed with determination, her headbands and strawberry Pop Tarts. She has Pop Tarts nearly every morning, especially on a race day. And they have to be strawberry. Snook is picky about more than just her headbands.