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Several Track and Field Girl Athletes Prove Their Great Sportsmanship and Substance
Two separate events recently showed once again how incredibly influential our young women in America can be – one an example of pure athleticism and the other an example of pure desire, determination and substance.
The first event came at the Washington Class 4A Girls Track and Field Championship meet in Pasco, the 3,200-meter run with Nicole Cochran, a standout runner from Bellarmine Prep, in the middle distance.
Cochran won 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 had run 3 consecutive strides inside the lane adjacent to him. Bellarmine Prep coach Matt Ellis appealed the infraction, but his appeal was dismissed.
The offense occurred on the first day of the meeting, and Cochran was visibly upset, knowing he had not committed the offence. In addition, Cochran was the defending state champion, winning titles in both the 1,600 and 3,200 as a junior.
He never seemed to recover after the devastating news and the sheer injustice of it all. On the second day of the race, Cochran led the 1,600 and won in the final lap when Oak Harbor’s Mietra Smollak edged her out in the final lap to win in 4:56.44. Kochran took the 4th place.
Later in the afternoon, Cochran ran the 800 meters and finished last in 2:24.40. “I just didn’t hang with them and gave up after 450m,” said a dejected Cochrane.
Despite Cochran’s score loss, his teammates were justifiably furious, winning the team title with 76.5 points, 65 points ahead of runner-up Gig Harbor.
“I put a lot of effort into the 3,200,” Cochran said, “and then the emotional toll of sitting here for an hour when they found out the 3,200 was unfortunate because I know I wasn’t in it. . was wrong and I was punished for it.”
In a display of pure sportsmanship, when official 3,200 race winner Andrea Nelson was awarded the first-place metal on the podium, she handed her first-place medal to Cochran moments later. Redmond’s Sara Lord then awarded Nelson a second-place medal, and the other medalists followed suit.
“It gave me chills,” Cochran said. “It shows how much respect distance runners have for each other.”
And now the story after the story: Ten days after that eventful afternoon, the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association reinstated Cochran as the true winner, reversing charges of rules violations by tournament officials.
Mike Colbrese, the WIAA’s executive director, reviewed video of the race that showed Cochran’s teammate went off the line, and the officials’ report also misidentified the lap in question when the infraction actually occurred on the lap. 6. So much for that bungled officiating attempt.
The officials made a mistake on the day of the race, but they also fully believed they were right and in charge on the day of the race. The cat will meow and the dog will have his day (from Shakespeare’s Hamlet, Act 5, Scene 1, meaning “every man’s moment of glory is inevitable) or, as I like to say: “the truth will come out”.
The second event occurred at the Texas 1A Girls Track and Field Championships in Austin, where Rochelle High School won the team title. So what’s so unusual, you ask? Only this: Rochelle qualified exactly one athlete for the state meet and won a state title for her team herself.
Meet Bonnie Richardson, a study of desire, determination and grit like no other track and field athlete in Texas high school history.
Richardson, whose middle name might be Talent, won the high jump at 5 feet 5 inches on Friday, was second in the long jump at 18-7 and third in the discus at 121-0.
Racing in 90-degree Texas heat on Saturday, Richardson quickly won the 200m in 25.03 and followed up with an effort in the 100 before finishing 2nd in 12.19. defending champion Kendra Coleman of Santa Ana.
“Kendra and I have been battling all year,” Richardson said. “I’m surprised I stayed with her. I didn’t think I was that fast.” Yes, Bonnie Richardson, you seem to be that fast.
So did Richardson steal the show in Texas? No, he just won his team a state title by himself. Officials of the University’s Interscholastic League did not remember that a girl had ever won a state team title by herself.
It preceded the boys’ state championship meet when former Baylor Bears and Pittsburgh Steeler Frank Pollard did it for Meridian High School in the 1970s, UIL athletic director Charles Breitaupt said.
Many standout girls have excelled at the state meet, but few transition from the sprints to the field events as successfully as Richardson, Beitaupt said. “The way she did it is really impressive.” This, of course, is what everyone thought they were there to see.
And the kicker? It turns out that Rochelle High School doesn’t even have a way to practice. When Richardson was asked how he practices, he jokingly replied, “Watch out for the potholes,” adding, “We have a track about 10 miles down the road and that’s where we usually practice.”
Richardson’s coach, Jim Dennis, thought he might do something special at the state meet, but wisely kept quiet and didn’t want to pressure his prized athlete.
Last year, Richardson won a state title in the long jump, but did not medal in the high jump and discus.
And an added bonus for Rochelle High School? Bonnie Richardson is a young woman.
Richardson also competes on the Rochelle tennis team and led the Rochelle basketball team to the state semifinals last season.
“If my parents would have let me, I would have played football,” Richarson said, adding, “Not defensive end.” It seems that I am a brave, competitive girl who is ready to solve any problems on the battlefield.
Lou Holtz, one of college football’s most legendary coaches, was famous for many quotes, including this one: “When all is said and done, more is said than done.” Anyway, I think Lou Holtz was a big fan of Bonnie Richardson and her extraordinary efforts on that hot Texas afternoon when she just gave Rochelle High a state title.
And there you have it: Nicole Cochran, every girl standing in the 3200m medal ceremony, Cochran’s teammates and Bonnie Richardson, all ordinary young women who did extraordinary things because they could and did.
Copyright © 2008 Ed Bagley
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