A lot of the challenges this summer I’ve tried to compete with the athlete, seeing if I can keep up with them.
Running the 800 with Waverly’s Cora Smith was different. I can’t keep up with her, there is no shot. If I raced Smith she’d finish, go get dinner and come back to watch me still on the track.
So, I just ran an 800 with Smith. For her, it was probably something she considered a light jog, for me it was something that had me tired at the end.
The thing is, not being able to keep up with Smith isn’t something to be embarrassed by, almost no one can keep up with the Waverly senior.
When she started high school it was all about soccer for Smith. Something changed sophomore year when she started to find success as a runner as well. And, last year her times took a bigger drop.
“Toward the end of last year, my sophomore year, I had a passion for it and I knew if I kept trying and practicing I’d get better,” Smith said. “I had no idea I would drop that much time, it kind of propelled me to think about running in college.
“The improvement I made really showed me practicing and dedication to the sport really helped. Even the first race in Spencer Van-Etten helped me to see I had a future in running.”
Since she was around four years old Smith has been playing soccer.
She’s played soccer pretty much year round all her life, playing travel and for Waverly.
Playing soccer in college was always part of the plan for Smith, now she’s not as sure.
“It’s definitely been hard to decide whether I want to pursue running or soccer,” Smith said. “I always thought I would go on to play soccer for a really long time, now I’m not so sure. I know I’ll play soccer as an offseason club, if I decide to run.”
Running started off as a challenge between Cora and her sister.
“When I first started running my sister signed us up for a half marathon,” Smith said. “It was a challenge between us, after that race, I developed a passion and kept running and school came and I had fun with it.”
Smith hasn’t really been running that long, so she knows there is room to grow.
“This will be my third year running, I’m very underdeveloped,” she said. “I have a lot of room to grow and a lot of potential to improve.”
If Smith chooses to run in college, she feels like she can really have a chance to get even faster.
“I am pretty hopeful with more training and the college coaches and their expertise, I will really be able to flourish and develop into a faster, and stronger, runner,” Smith said.
And, one key if she runs in college would be finding that one event to make her own.
“Right now I’m in three or even four events sometimes,” Smith said. “When you go to college they really hone you into one event and make it that alone.
“I’ll spend most of my energy in that one event and hone in on that skill.”
In high school she’s ran and played soccer, which keeps her in shape, but has divided her time a bit.
“I really use different muscles when I play soccer and track and it really keeps me in shape for both of them,” Smith said. “I would have more energy (Doing one sport in college) and be able to put my resources and skills into that.”
Throughout her high school career Smith has been asked about running cross country because of her track success, and now it’s something she really is trying to decide on.
“I am still debating on whether to do cross country this fall, I am in a really tough spot,” Smith said.
The tough spot is that if she was in the NTL she could do both sports, in New York she can’t do both.
“I definitely am wishing I was in Pa. right now for sure,” Smith said. “I am really in a tight spot right now.”
Smith knows she’ll have support no matter what she decides, but she has to consider whether she wants to keep playing soccer, something she’s done since she was four, on a team that’s been to three straight sectional finals, or join a cross country team that has had a ton of success itself.
“I know I would be with my friends either way,” Smith said. “Soccer has been a huge part of my life since the beginning. Running is new, it’s a new ballgame.
“Coaches have said some don’t care. Some prefer I do both sports, some would like to see me in cross country. Any time improvement would help with financial aid, so it’s really tough to decide.”
One thing Smith knows is that she likely will run indoor track this year for the first time since junior high.
“For sure, indoor will definitely help me getting ready for the spring season and college running,” Smith said. “I have very little time in the winter, practices, tournaments, it will definitely be a balancing act. It’s what happened in seventh grade, it wasn’t the easiest to balance and I picked soccer, hopefully it works out this year.”
While Smith isn’t 100% sure what sport to play in college, she knows what the biggest key to any school is.
“I really am focusing on academics first,” she said. “Whatever place can give me the best balance between academics and athletics is what I’m going with.”
And, there is a chance she’ll try both sports in college.
“I am considering it, if I go to a D3 school I think I can do both,” Smith said.
Smith knows that no matter what she has tough decisions to make.
“It’s pretty hard, I am definitely looking to see where I can get the most aid, and the best balance with social life,” she said.
But, all her work is what has put her in the position with this many options.
“It makes me really happy to see my hard work and dedication to each sport has paid off,” Smith said.
While she has options, and that’s a good thing, Smith has a really tough choice on what fall sport to do as a senior, and it’s something she will have to make a choice on by Monday.
“It’s really hard,” she said. “Just trying to figure out what will make me the happiest is very tough.”