Dorrian Jaffe of the Upper Arlington High school girls cross country team learned a lot about herself last fall in the Division I state meet at Scioto Downs.

Dorrian Jaffe of the Upper Arlington High school girls cross country team learned a lot about herself last fall in the Division I state meet at Scioto Downs.

A freshman at the time, she qualified individually for state with then-junior Olivia Menden and finished 71st in 19 minutes, 19 seconds. Menden finished 25th in 18:45.6.

"When we went to state, we found out we were just a small fish in a big pond," Jaffe said. "It really put us in our place. The girls we went up against were fantastic, and that's where we need to be."

Jaffe said she tried to stay with Menden during the race, but there were too many good runners competing to keep up. This season, she tries to keep Menden in sight and emulate her pace.

Menden and Jaffe have finished as the top two runners in UA's past two meets. Menden won the Newark Invitational on Sept. 17 at Evans Athletic Complex in 18:58.2, with Jaffe finishing as the runner-up in 19:00.1. Then on a hilly course in Bob Reall Invitational Sept. 24 in Lancaster, Menden won in 19:35.3 and Jaffe was runner-up in 19:40.

"Right now, I try to go out with Olivia because next year I want to be (where she is)," Jaffe said. "I want to control races like she does. She holds back enough so she can be strong at the end."

Coach Dale Hartney said his talented sophomore selected a great role model.

"Dorian doesn't like to be behind because she's so competitive and Olivia is a great teacher," he said. "Next year, when Olivia is gone, she will have two more years to do what Olivia is doing now."

Jaffe decided to be a distance runner after running the mile during elementary school. Her sister, 2010 graduate Gillian Jaffe, ran cross country and track for the Golden Bears and currently is a sophomore at Vassar College.

"Gillian taught me no matter how you think you did, be proud of what you have done at the end of the day," Jaffe said. "As long as you do your best and continue to get better, you have to be happy with that."

Hartney said Jaffe, like all young runners, is in the process of gaining confidence in her approach to running.

"Anyone good has to believe in themselves. The hardest thing for some of them is to get over their self doubt," he said. "One thing Dorian needs is maturity because she's still a young girl. Part of maturity is always trusting yourself on the course. But she is young and it takes a while to get there. I don't expect the runners to be adults."

Jaffe said her coach has been instrumental in teaching her the appropriate techniques to become a successful runner.

"Coach Hartney talks about pacing myself, not putting it all out there on the first mile," said Jaffe, who has a 3.95 grade-point average. "I need to save some for the end. Also, I need to watch my form and make sure I'm not using too much energy.

"I need to keep my arms straight and make sure my shoulders are back so I can breathe properly. If you run hunched over, that constricts your breathing path and it makes it easy to get a cramp."

Eating a proper diet has helped Jaffe cut her time this season.

"I limit certain things like soda during the season and tea can definitely give you cramps," she said. "This year, I definitely watch what I eat and drink."

One food Jaffe now turns to the night before a race is pasta.

"I'm big on superstitions and I try to eat the same food, pasta, the night before races and listen to the same music before a race," she said. "My sister made a playlist for me with a lot of Ellie Goulding and (the band) Above and Beyond - things that will give me a positive attitude going into the race - and I think it makes me run better."