Senior Wildcat jumps over life’s hurdles

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Dominic Baez
“I really don’t know why I like to run. No reason in particular. I just like to run.”
It is hard to imagine that senior Laura Sibley hasn’t been actively involved with track all her life. She did, however, play softball beginning in kindergarten.She didn’t join a track team until eighth grade at Broadway Middle School in Seaside, Ore.
“My mother was actually just looking at my journals from when I was younger,” Sibley said. “She found this entry about when I pulled my parents outside and said, ‘Watch me run!’ The entry just kept going and going, repeating ‘run’ over and over again. I remember that, too, because I would keep running when I was younger.”
Though track wasn’t necessarily a focus for Sibley, running was. She said it was always there for her, and she can’t imagine life without running.
In high school, Sibley continued running by joining the track team and said she fell in love with track at this point. Her specialty runs were the 100-meter run, the 200, the 4×100 relay and 100 hurdles.
“I won every time I ran the 200, and I only lost the 100 once during my first race,” Sibley said.
That was during high school, while she was also playing softball at the same time. However, she had a choice to make.
“It was tough decision to stop playing softball,” Sibley said. “I had played for nine or 10 years before that.”
She chose track. It might not have been the best decision.
“I chose track, and it was a horrible experience freshman year,” Sibley said. “I had a bad coach who wouldn’t let me join varsity, even though I was good enough. Apparently, though, I was good enough to fill in for the varsity team. He didn’t even mention me at the awards banquet that year. I actually thought about going back to softball.”
Sophomore year was a different story.
“There was a new hurdling coach, and she was like a second mom to me,” Sibley said. “The last coach, I think, was young and wanted to keep running himself. He left.”
At this point, Sibley fell in love with hurdling, the 100 hurdles in particular. She had an auspicious beginning, jumping at an above-average height from the start. As the year progressed, she became even more proficient at the event, eventually placing third in the 100 and 300 hurdles. She also went to the state competition for the 4×400 relay.
“Doing so well inspired me to push more and train harder,” Sibley said.
Her junior year of high school was similar to her sophomore year, except for the fact that she did better overall in her events, going to state for all of her runs and hurdles.
Senior year was a little different for her, Sibley said.
“My sister was a freshman, so she handed off to me in 4×100 relay, which was awesome, as we’re super close, then we got a state medal together,” she said. “It was awesome to stand on the podium with her. I went to state in all four events and placed fifth at state in 300 hurdles.”
However, not all went as planned.
“I was always about the 100 hurdles — at one point in the season I had the fastest time in the state,” Sibley said. “Every practice was about state championship. I got second at district to a girl who was running third in the state, I was fifth, and I did cross-country, too. I didn’t do basketball just to train. At the preliminaries at state, right out of the block I fell. The other girls were ahead of me. I can tell when I’m about to hit a hurdle, and I was thinking, ‘This is a dream,’ I kind of broke down a little bit. I guess the girl next to me had hit her hurdle, and it knocked my hurled crooked. Nothing was my fault, but my race was taken from me. I tried to complain, but if they didn’t see it first-hand, which they said they didn’t, they couldn’t do anything about it. All I had to do was finish and then run well.”
This was a turning point for Sibley.
“I learned a lot from that; you can look at the marks, but it comes down to that race, and you have to take every race by itself. You can’t think about the practice you had the day before or the last meet. I have grown so much from that. I’m not glad it happened, but it helped me, especially for conference. It doesn’t matter who’s ranked where, especially in hurdles. The worst part was that I still had to run the 300 hurdles. I was hysterical, and I barely made it to finals (I was ranked third in state before this). In the finals, I kind of half-assed the beginning of the race, but I realized, ‘I can run faster than this, I can definitely do better than this.’ On the fourth hurdle, I was in last place. I told myself, ‘I’m just going to do it.’ I got fifth, narrowly missing third.”
After all of that, Sibley chose to come to Linfield, though she wasn’t quite sure why because Linfield wasn’t her first choice.
“I had no idea what to do in college,” she said. “‘Is there a major in track?’ I wondered. I had wanted to go to Willamette University since my sophomore year of high school. I went senior year to Willamette to visit, but they weren’t very nice. I then came to Linfield – I really liked the track. I talked to Garry [Killborn] and Travis [Olson], too. While I was here, I thought, ‘I can be really competitive at these times.’ And I loved the campus. Once I got here, I always knew I would come here.”
She said the level of competition drastically increased, saying that high school was different.
“At college, everyone is good and is here for a reason,” Sibley said.
Though the next few years went smoothly, her senior year was something completely different.
“At the Willamette meet, I can’t even explain it. I am still in shock, and it’s been weeks,” Sibley said. “It’s changed my view of myself on the track a lot. I would think about running fast and I would have numbers in my head and the numbers I put up that weekend were just, I don’t know. It was shocking. I didn’t believe my coach when he told me what my split was, especially for how many times I ran it. I was just blown away. It was the most amazing race of my life so far.”
Before the Northwest Conference on April 24 and 25, Sibley said she was confident going into the meet. She was participating in both the 4×100 and 4×400 relays and both the 100 and 400 hurdles. She earned third in the 400 hurdles.
A month from graduation, Sibley’s time at Linfield is dwindling down. A business management major with minors in coaching in art, she isn’t all too sure as to what she wants to do after graduation.
“That’s in the works,” she said. “I want to coach, that’s for sure. I will coach no matter where I go. I love coaching, and I want to give back to the track and field community. Just knowing what I found in myself because of track, I want to give that back and help other athletes develop. I’ve grown so much more as a person than as an athlete on the track.”