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Several Track and Field Girl Athletes Prove Their Great Sportsmanship and Substance
Two recent stand-alone events once again showed just how impressive our young women in America can be – one at the very best of pure sportsmanship and the other at the heart of sheer desire, determination and substance.
The first race was held at the Washington Class 4A Women’s State Track and Field Championships in Pasco with Bellarmine Prep School standout middle distance runner Nicole Cochran in the 3,200 meters.
Cochrane won the race by 10 minutes and 36 seconds, beating Shader Park’s Andrea Nelson by three seconds. Thirty minutes later, race officials disqualified Cochran, ruling the Harvard-bound runner had taken three consecutive strides in the lane adjacent to her. Bellarmine prep coach Matt Ellis appealed the violation, but his appeal was denied.
The violation occurred on the first day of the meeting, and Cochrane was visibly upset that she knew she hadn’t. Additionally, Cochrane is the defending state champion, having won 1,600 and 3,200 in the juniors.
After hearing this shocking news, and the sheer injustice of it all, she will never be the same again. On the second day of the race, Cochran led the pack of 1,600 and was beaten by Oak Harbor’s Mietra Smollack on the final lap in 4:56.44. Cochran finished fourth.
Later in the afternoon, Cochran ran the 800 meters and finished in 2:24.40. “I just didn’t keep up with them and gave up after 450m,” said a frustrated Cochrane.
Despite losing points to Cochran, her teammates were rightfully riled up and won the team title with a score of 76.5 over second place Gig Harbor’s 65.
“I put a lot of effort into 3,200,” Cochran said, “but then my emotions took a hit and they sat here for an entire hour before they figured 3,200, which was unfortunate because I knew I wasn’t wrong, so I was punished.”
In a show of pure sportsmanship, as official 3,200 race winner Andrea Nelson finished first on the podium, she handed the first-place medal to Cochran Moments later. ). Sarah Lord of Redmond then presented Nelson with her second-place medal, and other medalists followed suit.
“It makes me shudder,” Cochran said. “It shows how much distance runners respect each other.”
Now for the barrage of stories: Ten days after that eventful afternoon, the Washington Intercollegiate Activities Association reinstated Cochrane as the legitimate winner, overturning the violation charges brought by game officials.
WIAA Executive Director Mike Colbrese reviewed race video that showed Cochran’s teammate running out of the lane, and that the official’s report also incorrectly identified the lap in question as lap 7, when the violation actually occurred 6. So much for bad refereeing.
The officials were completely wrong on game day, but they were also absolutely sure they were right and responsible on game day. Cats meow and dogs have a good day (from Shakespeare’s Hamlet, Act 5, Scene 1, meaning “An hour of glory for any given person is inevitable”), or, as As I like to say: “Rights are out”.
The second game took place at the Texas 1A Girls State Athletics Championships in Austin, where Rochelle High School won the team title. So what’s unusual, you ask? Here’s the thing: Rochelle just happened to qualify an athlete for a state game, and she herself won a state championship for her team.
Meet Bonnie Richardson, a study in desire, determination and substance unlike any other women’s track athlete in Texas high school history.
Richardson, whose middle name might be Genius, won the high jump Friday at 5-foot-5, finishing second in the long jump at 18-7 and third in the discus throw at 121-0.
Richardson ambled to the track in 90-degree Texas heat on Saturday and quickly won the 200-meter dash in 25.03 seconds and nearly finished in the 100-meter race before finishing second in 12.19 seconds It was a huge success. Santa Ana’s defending champion Kendra Coleman.
“Kendra and I have been fighting all year,” Richardson said. “I’m surprised I’m with her. I don’t think I’m that fast.” Yes, Bonnie Richardson, you’re obviously that fast.
So is Richardson stealing the show in Texas? No, she just won a state championship for her team. Intercollegiate league officials can’t recall a single girl ever winning a state championship on her own.
That did happen in the men’s state championship for Meridian Highs School in the ’70s, said UIL director of athletics Charles Breithaupt.
Beithaupt said many outstanding female athletes have dominated state competition, but few have made the leap from sprint to track as Richardson did. “The way she did it was really impressive.” Of course, that’s everyone who thought it was there to see it happen.
Where’s the kicker? It turns out that Rochelle High School doesn’t even have a practice track. When Richardson was asked how she trains, she jokingly replied, “Watch out for the potholes,” adding, “We have a runway about 10 miles down the road where we usually train.”
Richardson’s coach, Jym Dennis, doubted she could do something special at the state game, but wisely kept quiet, not wanting to put any pressure on his champion athlete.
Last year, Richardson won the state long jump title but didn’t win medals in the high jump or discus.
What about the extra wealth of Rochelle High? Bonnie Richardson is a junior.
Richardson also played on Rochelle’s tennis team and led Rochelle’s basketball team to the state semifinals last season.
“If my parents let me play football, I’d play football,” Richardson said, adding “Not quarterback. Defense.” Sounds like a girl like me — brave, competitive and willing to tackle everything on the field question.
Lou Holtz, one of the legendary college football coaches, has many quotes, including this one: “When it’s all said and done, more is said than done.” Somehow, I think Lou Holtz would be very Kudos to Bonnie Richardson and her extraordinary efforts to single-handedly win Rochelle High’s state title that hot Texas afternoon.
That’s it: Nicole Cochrane, every girl on the podium at the 3,200m ceremony, Cochrane’s teammates and Bonnie Richardson, all ordinary young women because they can and will do extraordinary things.
Copyright © 2008 Ed Bagley
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