But once you win the first one, the expectation changes.
In the fall of 2016, Dowdell won the Firelands Conference girls championship race as a freshman in 19:38.39 at Crestview.
From there, the watch was on.
On Saturday at Plymouth's Mary Fate Park, Dowdell completed the four-peat with a solid 19:20.2 time, winning the race by 16 seconds over Mapleton's Teja Young (19:36.2).
New London scored 52 points to outdistance Western Reserve (63) for its 13th FC championship. It’s also the fifth in the past seven seasons for the Wildcats.
St. Paul (69) and Crestview (77) were third and fourth. Mapleton (103), Monroeville (160) and Plymouth rounded out the field.
Dowdell became the third girls runner in FC history to win four individual titles, joining St. Paul's Erin McFadden (1996-99) and Crestview's Emily Trent (2009-12).
Across the four years, Dowdell turned in first-place times of 19:38.39, 19:33.81, 20:09.07 and the 19:20.2. No other runner was ever within 10 seconds of her at the four championship meets.
"Honestly, going out my freshman year and winning conference was not something I saw myself doing," Dowdell said. "It just wasn't something I thought of, but then it became a reality. The focus today was finishing my senior year strong with the start of the postseason and achieving all of the goals I have."
It was also a unique course for the runners on Saturday, as Mary Fate Park is three laps around the same mile stretch, as opposed to a longer, winding course.
"My time was definitely a big guess for me, because I've never ran that course for a three-mile before," Dowdell said. "The course was definitely repetitive. I tried not to think about it and stayed focused on the race strategy, which helped overcome that I was doing the same thing.
"It's one of the reasons I like running 3.1 miles is you don't see the same thing more than once," she added. "But it was a great race overall against some great competition. And everyone was there cheering us on ... there were parts where both sides of the course were completely packed with people — and you find yourself surrounded by the noise of excitement and energy instead of worrying about the repetitive aspect of the course."
Kaylin Williams and Savannah Shaver placed third and fourth to lead New London. The duo turned in times of 19:59.57 and 20:24.13. Earning second team honors for the ‘Cats was Emily White (22:25.30) in 14th.
Just behind her in 15th-through-17th place were teammates Grace Crawshaw (22:36.13), Esther Schmidt (22:36.99) and Abigail Good (22:41.20). Zoey Mitchell was in 20th (23:21.14) to round out the New London placers.
“We managed to stay ahead of a very good Western Reserve team,” New London coach Keith Landis said. “Just 25 points separated the top four teams. That’s an excellent group of teams right there.
“Lily is a special runner, and that’s an impressive time on what’s not a typically fast course,” he added. “Kaylin got under 20 and Savannah had the second-best race of her life today. On this course, I will take that all day long. These kids all work so well together.”
The Roughriders had four runners finish from eighth-to-11th to pace the runners-up finish. That quartet included McKenna Woodruff (21:38.61), Ashlyn Barnhart (21:40.78), Tabi Pausch (21:59.66) and Aliyah Perez (22:08.13).
Also for Western, Madison Weiser was 26th (24:15), followed by Rachel Herbkersman (30th, 25:18.13) and Rachael Olds (31st, 25:18.60).
After Dowdell, senior teammate Cheyene Null grabbed the last first team spot for St. Paul. She placed seventh in 21:36.12. Dana Sumpter was 18th (22:46.03), followed by Madelyn McCall (21st, 23:33), Josalynn Vazquez (22nd, 23:36.68), Olivia Hosack (24th, 23:59.86) and Claire Ceccoli (25th, 24:00.94).
Rachel Herner led Monroeville by placing 27th in 24:23.28. Payton Scheid (25:46.19) and Adelynn Kradlak (26:16.46) were 33rd and 34th, while Anita Ruggles was 36th (26:25.79) and Emily Kradlack was 40th (27:13.52).
Eliza Redden was 23rd for Plymouth in 23:39. 71, followed by Olivia Fidler in 32nd (25:19.06) and Kaela Plank (26:48.30) in 38th.
The Division III district meet will be held next week at Amman Park in Galion. It hopes to be the start of a third trip to state for Dowdell, who was an All-Ohioan and placed 10th as a sophomore in 2017.
She missed advancing to state last year, as injuries partially derailed her postseason.
"I feel ready, and I'm excited at the same time," Dowdell said. "I know my coaches have a plan for me. I know I can trust them in my training and everything leading up to the next three weeks. None of this would be possible without my coaches, our trainer (Jake Rospert) and Coach (John) Livengood.
"They have kept me going this season with medical help and positivity every day, and focusing on each practice and making every day worth it," she added. "This definitely could not have happened without my coaches. Coach (Monica) Nash was a big encouragement during the race to stay focused, and Coach (Tim) Fitzgerald who retired last year ... everything he taught me carried over. I only have so practices and races left, so something I live for and will miss is coming to an end and I’m going to leave it all out there."