Emerald Ridge High School senior-to-be ShaRaya Quinn isn’t afraid of pressure situations.
Quinn, who captured the Class 4A state title in the 300-meter hurdles this past May, will compete in the 100 hurdles and 400 hurdles during the USA Track and Field National Junior Olympics championships in Greensboro, N.C. The meet began Monday and runs through Sunday.
Quinn, who ran the 300 hurdles in 43.26 seconds at the state meet, said the best athletes in the country will show off their skills this week.
“This is a lot bigger than the state meet,” she said. “There are twice as many people. It will be good competition.”
Quinn said there are about 50 people in each race.
“My goal is to at least make it to the semifinals and finish in the top eight in both of my events,” she said.
Quinn, who will run without any attachment to a club, has been training to prepare for the meet by running sprints for two hours a day, five days a week. She said the 400 hurdles is the toughest race she’s ever experienced.
“The 300-meter hurdles seems so much shorter now,” she said. “I know it’s only an extra 100 meters, but you are using so much more energy that you have to run the race differently. You can’t just sprint the entire away around because you will pretty much die out. You have to concentrate and think about the pace you want to set. I like going out the first 200 meters pretty steady and just kind of try to finish it off as much as I can.”
Quinn’s mother, Rayna Green, said her daughter has been involved with athletics since she was 18 months old.
“We started her out in gymnastics and dance, and then went to tee ball and soccer,” Green said. “ShaRaya was also a competitive figure skater for nine years, too. In junior high school, she started running track, and the coaches noticed right away that she was something special.
“She is just naturally talented,” Green added. “I always told her, ‘If you take that natural talent and then put forth the effort, you can be No. 1.’ ”
Quinn said she wants to repeat as state champion in the 300-meter hurdles next May.
“I obviously want to win state again next year,” she said. “I can’t give away my title. I feel pretty confident knowing my other sports (soccer, wrestling) will help me stay in shape and ready once track season arrives.”
Green said she’s glad her daughter is fully immersed with Emerald Ridge athletics.
“My philosophy is that, if you stay in sports, you stayed focused in school,” Green said. “It keeps you out of other extracurricular activities that are bad for you and keeps you a away from bad choices. Sports teach a lot of responsibility.”