Girls' Athlete of Year: SJ-O's Chelsea Blaase
We asked Chelsea Blaase to describe what high school sports meant to her. She said:
Cross-country and track are not just sports to me, but a major part of my life. Running has no offseason. It isn't really a sport at all; it is a lifestyle. Through running, I have become a more confident and determined person. I have learned from these sports that through hard work and determination you can accomplish any goal you set your mind to.
My experience in the sport has helped me become an advocate for running. I have spoken to kids about running and never giving up. Hard work will help you overcome anything. Everyone should dream big, shoot for the stars. I didn't even make the all-time best times board in middle school. Yet, I was able to become a state champion in cross-country and track in high school. It takes dedication, getting up early on summer vacation to run, going to bed early, and complete focus.
Sacrifice, which means sometimes staying home and going to bed early instead of going to a football game the night before a meet or doing something with your friends. The most important thing that is needed to become a champion or accomplish any of your goals is to have the focus and drive to reach those goals. You have to really want it to be able to accomplish it.
Running is a huge part of my life, and I would never change it for another sport. I love the competitiveness that there is in cross-country and track and how the sports are so individualized. Although you are on a team, you are still out there competing against the other girls on your own.
I love running because I love giving it all I've got in a race. I love how you have to put so much work and effort into running, and I enjoy doing it. Sometimes the race doesn't come out the way you want it to, but you have to experience failures in order to succeed. I get pretty mad at myself right after a race if I feel I could have done better, but then I shake it off and move on.
With running, I have had to work harder than ever to get what I earned, and with that I have experienced some of the greatest moments in my life so far. Nothing is worth having unless you have to work for it.
I am very fortunate because running is giving me the chance to go to college and compete at the college level. I am very excited that I can train and compete with some of the best runners in the country. This opportunity also gives me the chance to work toward becoming a physical therapist.
As you can see, running has been a very important part of my life. There have been successes and failures, but I wouldn't change any of it. Without the encouragement from my teammates, coaches and family, my championships would not have been possible. I cannot thank them enough for all their support.
EDITOR'S NOTE: Blaase was a two-sport state champion as a senior. She won the Class 1A cross-country state title in November, helping SJ-O to a seventh-place team finish. She also won the 3,200-meter crown in last month's state track and field meet, helping the Spartans to a third-place team finish. Blaase will continue her running career at the University of Tennessee, where she will major in physical therapy.
Makenzie Baker Oakwood
Kathryn Boyer St. Thomas More
Jamie Blue Urbana Uni High
Jacy Cochran Fisher
Mariah Coleman Heritage
Hannah Cuttell Centennial
Elizabeth Everingham St. Joseph-Ogden
Michaleen Forman Danville
Jessica Greer First Baptist
Jill Haas Bismarck-Henning
Madie Herbert Unity
Lauen Houmes Hoopeston Area
Dominique Johnson Urbana
Megan Jones Ridgeview
Sam Kohlbecker Tuscola
Sarah Kresca Champaign Central
Lindsey Krippel Prairie Central
Molly Marcum LeRoy
Brooke Markwalder Armstrong-Potomac
Hunter Marsh Salt Fork
Amanda McCollom Villa Grove
Sydni Meunier Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley
Hannah Millington Argenta-Oreana
Paige Neuhauser Sullivan
Ashlen Portwood Milford
Alyssa Sawyer Georgetown-Ridge Farm
Amanda Wallace Mahomet-Seymour
Jaimey Watrous Monticello
Kylee West Schlarman
Jordan Wheeler Blue Ridge