Catch her if you can


One hot summer day, the thought hit me. The 2011-12 school year is history and I said nary a word about a great success story, perhaps the greatest success story of any freshman athlete at Hillsboro High School.

The fact I might have missed something isn’t particularly surprising—after all, basketball coaches have said for years I miss what happens right in front of me on a basketball court—but I feel this accomplishment deserves at least some acknowledgement from a local sports columnist.

The great thing about being a columnist is that I’m expected to share my opinion, no matter how right or wrong it is. And I realize that when it comes to such a subjective topic as who is the most successful freshman student-athlete in history at HHS, it’s really anybody’s guess. So if you have other suggestions, I’d be happy to hear them.

It would also be fun to look at the most successful student-athletes of all-time at HHS, but that’s a topic for another day.

Before revealing the name of this student-athlete, let’s be clear that I’m not saying this is the greatest freshman athlete of all time at HHS. That’s another category altogether. But the results in this person’s freshman year were extraordinary.

It should be noted that few freshmen make a notable difference in team sports. Thus, it’s hard to compare or judge the level of success a particular athlete has on a team. And there have been some good freshmen athletes in the team sports.

If you haven’t figured it out by now, the athlete I’m talking about runs, and runs and runs some more, and she had an amazing year last year.

Emily Sechrist won the Class 3A state cross-country championship last year, and for an encore she won the 3,200-meter run in the Class 3A state track and field meet at Cessna Stadium last May in a time of 11:42.36, before finishing third in the 1,600-meter run with a time of 5:24.17.

Those are remarkable accomplishments, whether you are a freshman, sophomore, junior or senior.

You will have to look long and hard to find a more humble and gracious champion. Sechrist is quick to give the glory to God for her ability, saying God gave her the motivation, strength and peace before every race.

In addition to God-given ability though, Sechrist must have a great work ethic. Plenty of athletes have ability, but not everyone puts the time and effort needed to excel.

Cross country is not the biggest spectator sport, but running in virtual anonymity doesn’t seem to bother Sechrist.

As for future success, who knows? As successful as she was her freshman year, there’s no guarantee she will be able to duplicate her success.

Cross country and track are somewhat fickle sports. A lot of great runners don’t win because they tweak a hamstring at the wrong time, aren’t 100 percent healthy, or simply don’t run their best on a particular day.

And, the fact is, there are a lot of good runners across the state, so there’s no shortage of competition.

I don’t know how much room for improvement Sechrist has. I doubt she even knows.

But it’s easy to root for her. The only words of advice I have for her competitors are: Catch her if you can.


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