Proving Herself

By Jeremy McDonald

jeremymcdonald73@gmail.com

ALBANY, Ore.–  In the crazy year that is, West Albany Senior Emily Stefan took whatever opportunity she could take to get back onto the track.  A full track season would have been great, but four meets were better than none for the Boise State-commit over this past Summer in Springfield at Springfield High School.

“The all-comer meets were amazing for me. Of course, having a full season or even just more than four meets would’ve been even better, to try and get to my peak performance level. With that being said, I was still able to hit a pretty solid PR in the 100 which honestly made a pretty big impact on my recruiting,” Stefan said.  “Honestly, I’m sure just getting back out on the track and having meets was great for me and so many other athletes.”

Her 12.51 PR in the fourth and final meet of the Summer was 0.15 faster than what she ran the week before in her month-long ‘Junior season’. 

Looking to build from her sophomore year where she qualified for the State Meet in the 100 and 200-meter, the Bulldog sprinter would go on to place in both events.  Finishing eighth in the 100-meter and seventh in the 200-meter dash while helping the West Albany 4×100 meter team to a fourth-place finishing.

The Bulldogs finished third as a team in the Team Scores with 41 points.

“Going to state my sophomore year was a great stepping stone for me, I think considering where I was at and knowing how I competed it was a great learning experience,” said Stefan of her sophomore year. “There is a lot to reflect on and a lot I can improve on in terms of the whole state championships experience as a whole. The biggest thing for me is now knowing what to expect.”

When the pandemic struck, halting the promises of a return to the big dance, Stefan took a backseat on the training and just focused on working out to stay in shape.  Stefan has been training at ReBuilding in Salem, waiting and seeing what her next move was.

She had about a month of training when she found out about the meets.  Stefan pointed towards the positives that she was able to come away with a big PR with just a few weeks under her belt to prepare.

Some would call this an ‘extended offseason’.  It is something that has motivated the Senior West Albany sprinter entering what she hopes for her Senior season this Spring.

“This “extended offseason” has done nothing but motivate me to show out for my last year here. I was ready to show out junior year, but now I’m more than ready to show what all this time has done for me,” Stefan starts.  “Mentally at the beginning of this shut down I was struggling a bit. Which is normal for athletes that just got their sport that they’ve been training all year for taken away, but as time went on, I started to realize how I can use this to my advantage and what I can do to make the most out of the situation.”

Stefan admitted that she felt like her dreams of running at the Division-1 level were fading, but decided to reach out to coaches.  Once she heard back from coaches, the fire within reignited even though she had four meets in between her State runs and Sunday’s announcement that she was taking her talents to Bronco Country in Idaho.

“Once I started to hear back from colleges that started to light the fire again. It made me want to prove myself to them, even though I didn’t get a typical season I started training like crazy to show them what I could do at those four meets. Which definitely helped me come out more mentally tough,” Stefan.

“I felt like losing my junior season really just took away any chance of me signing with a D1 school. Not only that, but I’ve been told just about all of my high school career that I wasn’t good enough for D1 or I needed to set more realistic goals for myself. So honestly it feels amazing to not only prove myself wrong, but to prove to everyone else that I could do it.”

Stefan and West Albany are slated to hit the track in May of 2021 when their season officially kicks off.

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