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Several Track and Field Girl Athletes Prove Their Great Sportsmanship and Substance
Two separate events recently showed once again just how incredibly impressive our young American women can be – one an example of pure sportsmanship at its best, and the other an example of pure desire, determination and substance. .
The first event was at the Washington State Class 4A Women’s Track and Field Championship meet in Pasco and the 3,200-meter race with Bellarmine Prep’s exceptional middle-distance runner Nicole Cochran. .
Cochran won the event in 10:36, beating Shadle Park’s Andrea Nelson by 3 seconds. Thirty minutes later, race officials disqualified Cochran, ruling that the Harvard-bound runner ran 3 consecutive steps inside the lane adjacent to hers. Bellarmine Prep coach Matt Ellis appealed the infraction, but his appeal was denied.
The infraction occurred on the first day of competition and Cochran was visibly upset because she knew she had not committed the infraction. Additionally, Cochran was the defending state champion, having won the 1,600 and 3,200 titles as a junior.
She never seemed herself after the crushing news and sheer injustice of it all. On day two of competition, Cochran led the 1600 and was knocked down on the final lap when Oak Harbor’s Mietra Smollack edged him into the final turn to win in 4:56.44. Cochran finished 4th.
Later in the afternoon, Cochran ran the 800 meters and finished dead last in 2:24.40. “I just didn’t hang with them and kind of gave up after 450 yards,” a dejected Cochran said.
Despite Cochran’s point loss, her teammates were rightly furious and rose to the occasion as they won the tag team title with 76.5 points to second-placed Gig Harbor’s 65.
“I put a lot of effort into the 3200,” Cochran said, “and then there was the emotional toll afterwards, sitting here for a whole hour while they were calculating the 3200, which was unfortunate because I know I was not wrong and I was penalized for it.”
In a show of pure sportsmanship, when official 3200 race winner Andrea Nelson received her first metal podium finish, she moments later gave Cochran her first medal. Sarah Lord of Redmond followed giving Nelson her second place medal, and the other medalists followed suit.
“It gave me chills,” Cochran said. “It shows how much distance runners respect each other.”
And now, story after story: Ten days after that eventful afternoon, the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association reinstated Cochran as the legitimate winner, quashing a rule violation charge brought by race officials.
WIAA executive director Mike Colbrese reviewed video of the race which showed it was Cochran’s teammate who ran out of the lane, and the officials’ report also incorrectly identified the lap in question as the lap 7 when the infraction actually occurred on lap. 6. So much for that failed refereeing effort.
Officials were completely wrong on race day, but they were also absolutely sure they were right and also in charge on race day. The cat will meow and the dog will have its day (from Shakespeare’s “Hamlet”, Act 5, Scene 1, meaning “anyone’s moment of glory is inevitable), or, as I like to say: “the law will come out of it”.
The second event was at the Texas 1A Girls State Track & Field Championship Meet in Austin, where Rochelle High School won the tag team title. So what’s so unusual, you ask? Just this: Rochelle qualified exactly one athlete for the state competition and she won the state title for her team single-handedly.
Meet Bonnie Richardson, a study in desire, determination, and substance like no other female track and field athlete in Texas high school history.
Richardson, whose middle name might just be talent, spent Friday winning the high jump at 5-foot-5, was 2nd in the long jump at 18-7 and third in the discus at 121-0.
On Saturday, Richardson took to the track in the sweltering 90-degree Texas heat and quickly won the 200 meters in 25.03 and followed up the effort almost pulling off a huge upset in the 100 before finishing 2nd in 12 .19 for defending champion Kendra Coleman of Santa Ana.
“Kendra and I have been fighting all year,” Richardson said. “I was amazed that I stayed with her. I didn’t think I was that fast.” Yes, Bonnie Richardson, you apparently ARE SO fast.
So, did Richardson steal the show in Texas? No, she just earned her team the state title single-handedly. Varsity Interscholastic League officials could not recall a girl ever winning a state tag team title on her own.
It happened before in the state men’s championship tie when former Balyor Bear and Pittsburgh Steeler Frank Pollard did it for Meridian Highs School in the 1970s, the college’s athletic director said. UIL, Charles Breithaupt.
Many outstanding female athletes have dominated national competitions, but few go from sprints to field events with Richardson’s success, Beithaupt said. “The way she did it is really impressive.” That is, of course, what everyone who was there to see it happen thought.
And the kicker? Turns out Rochelle High School doesn’t even have a practice track. When Richardson was asked how she trains, she jokingly replied, “Watch out for potholes,” adding, “We have a track about 10 miles up the road and we usually train there. “
Richardson’s trainer, Jim Dennis, suspected she might do something special at the state meet, but wisely kept quiet, unwilling to put pressure on his award-winning athlete.
Last year, Richardson won the state title in the long jump but did not medal in the high jump and discus throw.
And the big extra fortune for Rochelle High School? Bonnie Richardson is a junior.
Richardson is also on the Rochelle tennis team and led the Rochelle basketball team to the state semifinals last season.
“I would play football if my parents would let me,” Richardson said, adding “Not the quarterback. Defense.” Sounds like my type of girl who is brave, competitive and ready to fix any problem on the battlefield.
Lou Holtz, one of college football’s legendary coaches, was famous for many quotes, including this one: “When all is said and done, more is said than done.” Somehow I think Lou Holtz would have been a great admirer of Bonnie Richardson and her extraordinary efforts on that hot Texas afternoon when she single handedly presented a state title at Rochelle High School.
There you have it: Nicole Cochran, all the girls on the 3,200-metre ceremony podium, Cochran’s teammates and Bonnie Richardson, all ordinary young women who have done extraordinary things because they could and wanted to.
Copyright © 2008 Ed Bagley
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