Track athletes are a special breed. They are, in the main, self-motivated and often competing against their own previous bests rather than the times, heights or distances of others.
In the girls state track meet a little over a week ago, two girls did themselves, their schools and this area proud with their accomplishments at the highest level to which prep athletes in the sport can aspire.
Lapel's Plenseh-tay Sakeuh and Pendleton Heights' Kiawna Cottrell proved to be two of the most athletic performers on that stage.
Sakeuh is a hurdle specialist. So strong is she in that area that she often passes multiple opponents within the stretch where the hurdles must be cleared.
The junior was fourth in the 300-meter hurdles, just 2.6 seconds behind the winner, who is a senior and broke a three-year-old record in that event. Sakeuh was eighth in the 100-meter hurdles, but finished just .58 seconds behind the winner.
Cottrell was just as impressive. In the long jump she was fifth and just over a foot away from the winning distance. The PH senior was second in the 400-meter dash, just 1.38 seconds behind the winner. In the 200, she was fifth but less than a second behind the winner. That's three podium finishes for the swift Arabian.
One other athlete, sophomore Alex Buck from Pendleton Heights, qualified for the state meet despite injuring a foot in the regional. That injury kept her from competing in the 3,200-meter run at the state level, but she is likely to make two more appearances there before graduation.
The dedication and the performances of these girls should serve of examples of what can be accomplished when talent is paired with the desire to excel. Hopefully it will motivate other athletes to take a similar path. Cottrell will be missed. Hopefully Sakeuh and Buck will lead another strong contingent of area athletes to next year's state meet.
In summary: Track athletes are, for the most part, self-motivated to excellence. There aren't the large crowds that some other team sports draw. Often the athletes compete at the highest levels as individuals. But Madison County was well represented in the girls state track meet.