College Football Coaches To Win National Title At Multiple Locations Several Track and Field Girl Athletes Prove Their Great Sportsmanship and Substance

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Several Track and Field Girl Athletes Prove Their Great Sportsmanship and Substance

Two separate incidents recently demonstrated once again how incredibly influential our young Americans can be – one an example of great sportsmanship and the other an example of sheer will, determination and substance.

The first event took place at the Washington Class 4A state girls track and field championship meet in Pasco and ran alongside Nicole Cochran, Bellarmine Prep’s standout middle distance runner, in the 3,200-meter race.

Cochran won the event in 10:36, defeating Sheddle Park’s Andrea Nelson by 3 seconds. Thirty minutes later, race officials disqualified Cochran, and the Harvard-bound runner ran 3 consecutive laps in the lane next to her. Bellarmine Prep coach Matt Ellis appealed the infraction, but his appeal was denied.

The violation occurred on the first day of the visit, and Cochran was clearly upset because she knew she did not violate it. Additionally, Cochran was the defending state champion, winning both the 1,600 and 3,200 titles as a junior.

After that crushing news, and the sheer injustice of it all, she never realized. On the second day of competition, Cochran led the 1,600 and was killed in the final lap when Oak Harbor’s Mitra Smolak passed her on the final turn to win in 4:56.44. Cochran finished fourth.

Later in the afternoon, Cochran ran the 800 meters and finished last in 2:24.40. “I didn’t hang with them, and after 450 meters I gave up,” said a frustrated Cochran.

Despite Cochran’s loss of points, her teammates rallied and won the team title with 65 points from second-place Gig Harbor with 76.5 points.

“I tried hard in the 3,200,” Cochran said, “and then it took an emotional toll, sitting here for an hour figuring out the 3,200, which was unfortunate because I knew I wasn’t in it. Made a mistake and got punished for it.”

In a display of pure sportsmanship, when official 3,200 race winner Andrea Nelson was awarded her first-place metal on the podium, she handed Cochran her first-place medal moments later. Redmond’s Sara Lord edged Nelson to second, and other medalists followed suit.

“That 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 reversed the rules violation charge by race officials, restoring Cochran as the rightful winner.

WIAA Executive Director Mike Colbres reviewed video of the race that showed Cochran’s teammate ran out of the lane, and the officials’ report also incorrectly identified the lap in question as lap 7 when there was actually a violation on the lap. 6. So much for that messy work effort.

The officials were wrong on race day, but they were also convinced they were right and in charge on race day. The cat will meow and the dog will have a day (Shakespeare’s “Hamlet”, Act 5, Scene 1, meaning “Any man’s moment of glory is inevitable) or, as I like to say: “will be right”.

The second incident occurred at the Texas 1A Girls State Track and Field Championship meet in Austin, where Rochelle High School won the team title. So what’s so unusual, you ask? Only this: Rochelle qualified exactly one player for the state meet and she single-handedly won a state title for her team.

Meet Bonnie Richardson, a study of desire, determination and substance like no other girl track and field athlete in Texas high school history.

Richardson, whose middle name could only be Talent, won the high jump on Friday at 5 feet 5 inches, finished second in the long jump at 18-7 and third in the discus at 121-0.

On Saturday, Richardson hit the track in high-90-degree Texas heat and quickly won the 200-meter dash in 25.03 and nearly pulled off a huge upset in the 100 before finishing second in 12.19. Defending champion Kendra Coleman of Santa Ana.

“Kendra and I have been battling all year,” Richardson said. “I’m surprised I kept up with her. I didn’t think I was that fast.” Yes, Bonnie Richardson, you are apparently that fast.

So did Richardson steal the show in Texas? No, she just led her team to a state title. University Interscholastic League officials couldn’t remember a girl winning a state team title by herself.

Charles Breithaupt, director of UIL athletics, said it happened in the state boys’ championship in the 1970s when former Balor Bear and Pittsburgh Steeler Frank Pollard did it for Meridian High School.

Many outstanding girl athletes have dominated the state meet, but few have matched Richardson’s success in everything from sprints to field events, Bethhaupt said. “The way she did it is really impressive.” Of course everyone wondered who was there to see it happen.

And the kicker? It turns out that Rochelle High School doesn’t even have a track to practice on. When Richardson was asked how she trains, she jokingly replied, “Watch out for the potholes” and added, “We have a track about 10 miles down the road and usually train there.”

Richardson’s coach, Jim Dennis, doubted she could do something special at the state meet, but wisely kept quiet, not wanting to put any pressure on his prize athlete.

Richardson won the state long jump title last year, but did not medal in the high jump and discus.

And extra great luck for Rochelle High School? Bonnie Richardson is a junior.

Richardson also competed on Rochelle’s tennis team and led Rochelle’s basketball team to the state semifinals last season.

“If my parents would let me, I would play football,” Richerson said, “not quarterback. defense.” Sounds like my kind of girl-spunky, competitive and ready to solve all problems 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 tremendous admirer of Bonnie Richardson and her extraordinary effort on that hot Texas afternoon when she single-handedly delivered the state diploma to Rockwell High School.

And there you have it: Nicole Cochran, every girl standing on the medal stand for the 3,200-meter event, Cochran’s teammates, and Bonnie Richardson, all ordinary young women who did extraordinary things because they could and would.

Copyright © 2008 Ed Bagley

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