Recently, two separate events demonstrated once again how incredibly impressive our young women in America can be – one is an example of sheer sportsmanship at its finest, the other an example of sheer desire, determination and substance.

The first event occurred at the Washington Class 4A State Women’s Track and Field Championship in Pasco, and the 3,200-meter race with Nicole Cochran, Bellarmine Prep’s outstanding middle distance runner.

Cochran won the event in 10:36, beating Shadle Park’s Andrea Nelson by 3 seconds. Thirty minutes later, race officials disqualified Cochran, ruling that the runner heading to Harvard ran 3 consecutive steps into the lane adjacent to hers. Bellarmine Prep coach Matt Ellis appealed the offense, but his appeal was denied.

The offense occurred on the first day of the competition and Cochran was visibly upset that she knew she had not committed the offense. Additionally, Cochran was the defending state champion, having won the 1,600 and 3,200 titles as a junior.

She never seemed like herself after the crushing news and the sheer injustice of it all. On the second day of competition, Cochran led 1,600 and was gunned down on the final lap when Oak Harbor’s Mietra Smollack kicked out the final corner 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 just didn’t relate to them, and I gave up after 450 meters,” said a dejected Cochran.

Despite losing Cochran’s points, his teammates were legitimately outraged and rose to the occasion by winning the team title with 76.5 points to second-place Gig Harbor’s 65.

“I tried really hard at 3,200,” Cochran said, “and then came the emotional toll after sitting here for a whole hour while they worked out 3,200, which was a shame because I know I was not wrong and I was penalized for it. “.

In a show of sheer sportsmanship, when 3,200-race official winner Andrea Nelson received her first metallic podium place, moments later she handed Cochran the first-place medal. Sarah Lord of Redmond gave Nelson his second place medal, and the other medal winners followed suit.

“It gave me the creeps,” Cochran said. “It shows how much respect long-distance runners have for each other.”

And now story after story: Ten days after that eventful afternoon, the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association reinstated Cochran as the rightful winner, reversing a rules violation charge made by race officials.

Mike Colbrese, executive director of the WIAA, reviewed video of the race which showed that it was Cochran’s teammate who ran out of the lane, and that the officials’ report also incorrectly identified the lap in question as lap 7. when the offense occurred in the lap. 6. So far that clumsy refereeing effort.

The officials were completely wrong on race day, but they were also absolutely sure they were right and they were in charge on race day too. The cat will meow and the dog will have his day (from Shakespeare’s “Hamlet,” Act 5, Scene 1, meaning “anyone’s moment of glory is inevitable), or, as I like to say,” the right will come out. “

The second event occurred at the Texas 1A Girls State Track and Field Championships in Austin, where Rochelle High School won the team title. So what is so unusual, you ask? Just this: Rochelle qualified exactly one athlete for state competition, and she herself won the state title for her team.

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

Richardson, whose middle name might be a talent, spent Friday winning the high jump at 5-foot-5, placing second in the long jump at 18-7 and third in discus at 121-0.

On Saturday, Richardson approached the track in the sweltering 90-degree Texas heat and quickly won the 200-meter race in 25.03 and followed the effort almost achieving a huge surprise in the 100 before finishing second in 12.19 to the defending champion. Kendra Coleman from Santa Ana.

“Kendra and I have been fighting all year,” Richardson said. “I was surprised that I stayed with her. I didn’t think it was that fast.” Yes, Bonnie Richardson, apparently YOU ARE THAT fast.

So Richardson stole the show in Texas? No, she only won her team the state title. University Interscholastic League officials had no recollection of a girl ever winning a state team title on her own.

It happened earlier at the state boys’ championship when former Balyor Bear and Pittsburgh Steeler Frank Pollard made it to Meridian Highs School in the 1970s, said UIL athletic director Charles Breithaupt.

Many outstanding female athletes have dominated state competitions, but few go from sprints to field events with Richardson’s success, Beithaupt said. “The way he did it is really impressive.” That is, of course, what everyone who was there to see it happen thought.

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

Richardson’s trainer, Jym Dennis, suspected he could do something special at state competition, but wisely kept quiet, not wanting to pressure his award-winning athlete.

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

And the great additional fortune for Rochelle High School? Bonnie Richardson is a third year student.

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

“I’d play football if my parents let me,” Richarson said, adding “No quarterback. Defense.” She sounds like my kind of girl who is brave, competitive, and willing 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.” In some ways, 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 presented a state degree to Rochelle High School.

And there you have it: Nicole Cochran, all the girls on the medal table at the 3,200-meter ceremony, Cochran’s teammates and Bonnie Richardson, all normal young women who did extraordinary things because they could and did.

Copyright © 2008 Ed Bagley

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