By Jeremy McDonald
SILVERTON, Ore.– As bittersweet as her this Spring was for Silverton’s Justice McBride-Steiger on the heels of winning State as a Junior, she wouldn’t forget what Head Coach Erik Cross and the Foxes Coaching Staff has taught her as she prepares for her next chapter of her running career at Linfield College.
“Even though I did not have a track season this year I’ve learned so much from Coach Cross and the other coaches and I’m beyond grateful for the time I’ve spent with them,” said McBride-Steiger. “However, I have gained a new opportunity to run for the Linfield wildcats and I’m so excited. I’ll run the 400m as well as the 4-by-4 and 4-by-1 and I will probably try out other events to mix things up. So far I’ve created new goals for myself and I’m ready to better myself as a runner with this opportunity.”
The Silverton Senior was hoping to defend her 400-meter dash State Championship and see if the 4×100 and 4×400 relay teams could dethrone Mid-Willamette Conference-foe North Salem in the State race this Spring. The Foxes girls finished second to the Vikings last Spring at Mt. Hood Community College.
Coming off a tough sophomore year in which a hip injury put to an end to a promising season just shy of finishing the goal of competing at State, having to end her season prematurely in order to heal up for her Junior Season right around the corner. As painful as it was for her, McBride-Steiger knew it was the best thing to do at the time.
“It had affected me through most of the season my sophomore year however I still competed well and did everything I could so I could make it far,” McBride-Steiger started about the hip. “However, the last day of districts that year I could tell something was not right. I still ran the 400 but I knew on the last 200 stretch I was losing my stride and my mechanics were falling apart.
“It was difficult to see that I wasn’t quite where I needed to be to go to state because of my hip and it really sucked. In the end though I still had the opportunity to go as an alternate for the 4by4 but i gave it up to Madelyn Broyhill a close friend because I knew the best thing i needed was to rest it because I had pushed myself to hard that season.”
The next year, she came back ready for Cross Country. By track season, she went toe-to-toe with teammate in then-Senior Katie Sinn.
Sinn was the fastest girl on the team pointed out McBride-Steiger. But the then-Junior knew she had to keep up with Sinn knowing her goal was to make it to the big Meet and try to break the school record of 58 seconds in the 400.
“The back-and-forth with Katie was continuous support of each other we both wanted the absolute best for each other and the team as a whole. Sure, it was competitive because we always went up against each other but at the end of the day I think we just wanted to do what we could and learn from it,” said McBride-Steiger.
“I truly believe her as well as the girls on the 4-by-1 and 4-by-4 really helped me get better mentally and physically. I think that being able to run with Katie Sinn helped me become better mentally and physically because it made me realize if she could do it I could do it and that’s just how it was.”
The two met in the State Finals in the 400-meter dash at Mt. Hood Community College. McBride-Steiger fully thought Sinn was going to win entering the blocks. In the final 100 meters however she went into her final kick. When she crossed the finish line, she edged her Senior teammate by 0.31 of a second for the State Title in 59.03 seconds.
“I knew Katie was beside me but I had never expected to cross the finish line first. I was shocked I didn’t even realize I came in first I was focusing on my time and trying to breathe,” McBride-Steiger said, who PR’d in the State race. “Once I did realize what I accomplished I was relieved and felt redeemed. I had won the state title and broke a minute something I had wanted to do since my freshman year.”
Fast forward nearly a year since that Spring day in Gresham. Her focus is still there as she set forth with her new goals entering her freshman year with the Wildcats.
“I’ve created new goals for myself and I’m ready to better myself as a runner with this opportunity. One of my goals for college is to try and break 56 in the 400, as well as trying to test myself in other events to see what can do,” said McBride-Steiger.