Having already put in the miles and trained as best as she could, Hillsboro High School senior and runner Emily Sechrist went into the state 3A cross-country meet hoping to win.
After winning the state 2A race as a junior, coming in second in 3A as sophomore, and becoming 3A state champion as freshman, Emily had good reason not only to hope, but also to believe in her ability to win it all one more time.
The pressure she put on herself was immense.
“I really wanted to get first,” Emily said. “I pushed myself as much as I possibly could.”
Emily made running a priority during the season. She said she ran outside of organized practice on the weekends to keep an edge on competition and generally only took one day off a week.
For her, distance running is a relaxing release from her student responsibilities.
Unlike some runners, she doesn’t listen to music when she practiced. Instead, she said her mind drifted into “totally random stuff” like English essays and prayer. During competition, however, she focuses on the moment.
“I try to think about my form and remember to relax my arms and shoulders,” Emily said. “I also focus on my pace and how it will work into the overall race.”
Like any athlete of such a caliber, she was naturally a touch disappointed at her second place finish, but she still found a silver lining in the fact that she ran the terribly hilly course at Rim Rock Farm near Lawrence in 15 minutes and 33.10 seconds.
With that time, she finished the course six seconds faster than when she won state on the same course as a sophomore.
She said her fastest time of the season was 14:36 at Sterling golf course, which was a much flatter course than Rim Rock.
“The end to this season was more of a sad note,” she said. “It was my last cross-country meet and the last time running with a lot of good friends I’ve raced against and made along the way.”
For now, Emily gets to rest.
She isn’t planning to compete in winter sports, but she looks forward to long distance track events in the spring, and after she graduates she very much wants to run in college, although she doesn’t know which one just yet.
Senior Karyn Leihy also ran at state and finished in 74th place with a time of 19:04.10.
“We’ve been running together since we were in middle school,” Emily said. “I know she didn’t like the cold. It affected her running.”