With her feet pressed against the block, senior Sydney Washington fixes her eyes on a spot around 25 meters ahead of her. She can picture the run. Staring at the empty track, she clears her mind from the noise of the team, the fear of her competitors and the distraction of the crowd.
“I pray with myself right before the heat,” Washington said. “It just calms me and gives me confidence. I try not to think about any of my competitors because I don’t want to psych myself out by over thinking.”
On February 11th, Washington set the best personal record in this years’ fastest 60 high schoolers at her meet in Frisco, Texas by running a 60 meter dash in 7.36 seconds.
“I was so excited to come out on top,” Washington said. “It felt great to see my training pay off. I have to thank God for allowing me to have such a successful race and hopefully many more.”
During her sophomore year Washington hyper extended her leg during a high jump, leaving her PCL torn and her bone bruised. After a brief discussion, Washington was forced to sit out for three months, missing the entire track season.
“I was crying because I wasn’t sure if I would come back the same,” Washington said. “My family helped me a lot and made sure I wasn’t taking it too seriously. My coaches helped me so much and tried to teach me new things even off the track.”
Washington’s parents helped her by showing her videos and practices of recovery. Both her parents ran track themselves and they guided Washington though her MRI scans and pain.
“My mom and dad have been with me every step of the way,” Washington said. “I got a chance to support my sister since I was just watching but I really wanted to be out there. When I came back the doctor said I could start walking but I went to track practice instead.”
The summer of 2015, Washington worked to overcome her knee issues and put herself back into shape. Not only did she motivate her family, but also her friends.
“I’m so proud of all her accomplishments and I’ve probably bragged about them more then she has,” Washington’s friend, senior Lily Ahrens said. “From her I have learned to never take anything too seriously. I’m so confident that she will be able to make it to an Olympic level.”
Going into her junior year, Washington qualified for regionals and hoped to make it to state. Until she hyper extended the same leg during the long jump at her regional meet, disqualifying her from the regional finals and the possibility of state.
“My parents took me to the doctor’s immediately,” Washington said. When the doctor told me I started to cry. It sucked watching people run but I think that is when I learned just how much I love track.”
Once again, Washington was forced to sit by the sidelines and watch as the season went by. In the meantime, she attended therapy and worked on the bike to ease her knee.
“That was the most devastating because I was just starting to really improve,” Washington said. I knew that I wouldn’t go to state and since then that has been my goal. I feel like setbacks made me stronger and made me want to run more.”
Washington has been working with her coach Brian Rich since November to recover and work on her speed and running time. Together the team, Rich and Washington work on weight training, block starts and explosive drills. They range from 600 meters runs to 150 meter acceleration runs during their practices.
“All I do is create workouts that I feel will help our ladies make improvements they can maintain,” Rich said. “The ladies have to do the work and do it with great effort to see that improvement. [Washington] works out for track year round and her summer coaches and parents have just as much to do with her success as her amazing work ethic.”
Currently, Washington is in season with the rest of her team and Rich to work on improving her personal record. She has signed with Baylor University and wants to run track professionally, while keeping business management as a backup.
“I feel like Baylor really took a chance with me because back then I wasn’t really one of tops in the nation,” Washington said. “And now I feel like I have something to prove, a lot that I didn’t get to show last year and now. I want to prove to myself that I am mentally strong enough to face off my competitors.”