It was looking to be the senior track season that would make all her hard work over the years pay off.
Emma Burnham of Spanish Fork High School cleared 5 foot 2 inches in the high jump at her first track meet, which would both tie her personal best and qualify her for the 5A state track meet in May. That same race, she ran a personal best of 17.86 seconds in the 100 meter hurdles.
Days later, it was announced that schools were closed, and all sporting events would be cancelled until further notice. Even with the bleak outlook for her final track season, Emma has stayed focused on her goals.
“It is definitely a lot harder to stay positive and hopeful with everything that has happened,” she said.
“I’ve been doing my best to go to the track every day that I am able and doing the workouts my coaches have sent me. It’s hard not to be able to get together every day with my teammates and practice. I’m trying to stay healthy and being positive is really all any of us can do right now in this situation.”
Working hard and staying positive is what has gotten Emma this far. The state-qualifying athlete has been running since she was 5-years-old and joined the Spanish fork junior high track team when she was in seventh grade, and the high school team when she was in ninth grade. Her main events are the 100 meter hurdles, and the high jump, but she says that she will do any races that her coach has her do, except for long distance ones.
According to her coach, Darin Cable, Emma has been an example of working hard even when things are really hard.
“Emma epitomizes the best qualities of a student athlete,” Cable said. “Her dedication in the classroom and on the track allows her to set and achieve difficult goals. In our only meet of the year before our track season was postponed, she cleared 5’2” in the high jump which both ties a personal best and is a state qualifying level jump. She will be heartbroken if unable to compete this year at state, but I know she knows that staying safe to be able to succeed in life is more important.”
Emma agreed that the possibility of not having another meet this year would be disappointing, but she also had a positive outlook.
“While track has been a source of many tears, it has also been a source of accomplishment, happiness, and great friendships for me for a long time,” she said. “Being on the track team has helped me break out of my shell. I have learned how to interact better with others, be a good leader, and I have been taught how to work hard. I am planning on training like usual to the best of my ability, and if region and state happen, I’ll be ready for them. If they don’t end up happening then I can still be proud of the hard work I put into my season.”
Coach Cable said that he is proud of Emma and all his track athletes, and gave some advice to other athletes, particularly the seniors this year.
“Track is a hard effort high reward sport that translates into creating high character student athletes,” he said. “Regardless of the athlete’s level of athleticism, as long as they put in the work, they can each find success by setting personal bests and making lifelong friends. Our seniors are part of our track family. Keep working individually through the shutdown to strengthen your core and aerobic capacity. If we end up with a shortened season you will be able to take advantage of being ahead of the competition. If no 2020 season happens then you will know you worked hard to be healthy and strong in this challenging time.”
If you have a student-athlete you would like featured, who you feel exemplifies what it means to claim that title, please email Anderson at email@example.com. (Brown is a Serve Daily contributor.)