HAYWARD — Bad news for the rest of the girls scheduled to run in Division 5 of the CIF State Cross Country Championships next Saturday: Rylee Bowen is back.

Bowen won her second consecutive North Coast Section championship and clocked the fastest time by a Redwood Empire girl this year at 17:29.7.

If you hadn’t noticed that the Sonoma Academy sophomore was ever gone, it’s because she has won race after race this season, just as she did as a freshman. But Bowen said after Saturday’s race at Hayward High that she started her training late this season and has not raced well, despite results that most would covet.

“This race was the first race that I felt like myself again,” Bowen said. “I’m really glad that my positive attitude is coming back.”

Bowen was neck and neck with Kiera Marshall of St. Joseph Notre Dame until the final up-and-down that precedes the finish. Then pulled away.

“I was originally gonna try for (separating on) the track, but I felt tired,” Bowen said. “So I waited until just before the last hill. That part hurt, too, but it was still fun getting to run fast.”

Bowen took a one-stride lead over Marshall up that final hill, and was about 30 feet ahead of her adversary by the time they descended. Bowen’s time was the second fastest ever here among D5 girls, behind only Branson runner Julia Maxwell’s 17:22 in 2012.

Bowen said she has been practicing well this season, but just wasn’t experiencing the joy of competing on race day. She’s hoping Saturday’s result will help her turn a corner.

“Even today, I came into the race thinking like, ‘Oh, I’m sick. This isn’t gonna be my day,’ ” Bowen said. “And then in the middle of the race I had to make a choice, whether to go or to just let her drop.”

She pushed herself to go. And no one goes quite like Rylee Bowen when she sets her mind to it.