POCA — On the soccer field or track, Herbert Hoover junior Emilee Henry displays bursts of speed few others in the state can match.
Henry, named Honorable Mention All-State in soccer for Class AA-A, finished top four as a sophomore at the state track and field meet in the 100-meter run, 200 and 400. At Tuesday’s Dick Darby Classic, hosted by Poca, Henry exhibited her quickness in her signature events, including winning the 400.
“I think it’s definitely a combination of both, the God-given speed, and she plays soccer,” Huskies track coach Lance Moore said of Henry’s track success. “She’s played for years and that keeps her active and moving. In years past, she had always played travel soccer, but now she’s concentrating on track and she puts in a lot of extra time at the gym, so I definitely have to attribute some God-given talent, and a lot of hard work, too.”
Henry, last year’s girls high-point award winner at the Cardinal Conference Championships, said she agreed with her coach in crediting her participation in soccer for preparing her for the track season.
“I really do, because I get all the agility ready and then during the offseason I work on it a little bit more,” she said.
With all the running she logs whether on the pitch or track, Moore said Henry uses her abilities to excel, particularly in the 400.
“I think just the natural speed and all the years of playing soccer and doing other sports has allowed her to build up quite an endurance that allows her to do the 400 at a high level,” he said. “I think it’s the hard work and the talent.”
Though Henry shines in each of her individual sprinting events, she said her best event is also the hardest and longest, the 400.
“I feel like, in the 400, I do better than the rest, because at the end it feels like I have more of a adrenaline rush,” she said.
Each event requires a different approach, Henry said. With her longest event, Henry must run a more cerebral race, while the shorter events require less thinking.
“Mostly in the 400, you have to have some kind of breathing technique down,” she said. “Then, the 100, 200, you just have to go. You can’t have any time to think or anything. You just have to sprint.”
As Henry continues to post faster times and her reputation grows, she finds herself as the runner her competitors seek to beat. Henry said she likes being the pace-setter, though she enjoys chasing down runners from behind, too.
“I actually like to chase somebody, because it pushes me even more,” she said. “I just think the best of it and whoever I run against motivates me even more to run my best.”
Now, Henry often leads the pack with her speed, but Moore said he sees no change in Henry’s demeanor or approach to a race.
“As far as her attitude, she acts like the same Emilee she did before she ever ran a race for us,” he said. “It hadn’t really changed her or affected her personality. She’s just stayed grounded and acted like herself. She handles it quite well.”
To remain among the best sprinters, Henry continues to perfect each part of her race.
“I’m working mostly on my starting blocks,” she said. “Hopefully, I can make it to states.”
When it boils down, running either in track or soccer, the greatest distinction lies in the starting gun as Henry chases her goals.
“Of course, in soccer you don’t have to wait for a gun to shoot,” she said. “You can go whenever you want. I don’t think there’s a really big difference instead of just waiting to go.”