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The Student News Site of Fresno Christian High School

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The Student News Site of Fresno Christian High School

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Junior track hurdler excells despite setbacks

?Attack, drive, 1,2,3? attack, drive, 1,2,3.? Aliza Ford repeats this mantra to herself as she mentally prepares for the 100-meter high hurdle race each day and at the Buchanan West Coast Relays on March 31. She tries to focus on the race ahead of her despite mounting anxiety and fears of failure.

As the gun fires, Ford exits the blocks with power and glides over the hurdles with a precise four-step approach. In the seconds of sprinting and jumping it is hard to imagine having the ability to think, but Ford recalls this special race with perfect clarity.

?Half way through the race,? Ford said, ?I remember I could see out of the corner of my eye the other runners coming up near me. I was not sure if I had won.?

Ford received a sweatshirt as a prize and a congratulations hand shake from an impressed fellow competitor after she ran. But it was unsure of whether she placed first or second.

Later at the meet, the announcement came that ?Aliza Ford, from Fresno Christian? had won the 100-meter high hurdle race. The surrounding team cheered in ecstasy and the coaches? pride shone through.

Ford?s track career began in the spring of 2004. As a freshman, she hardly had any experience in sports, especially running. Track was a new venture for Ford.

With natural athletic ability and determination, Ford has succeeded in many aspects of track. Now a junior with three years experience, Ford continues to grow in knowledge and skill.

Currently Ford holds the school record for the 100 high hurdles with a time of 16.8 seconds. Success did not always come easy for Ford. There were times when things were not going so well.

As the League Championships grew close her freshman year, Ford and the other 4×1 relay team practiced their hand offs to gain speed and efficiency. The baton dropped in practice creating much unease.

It was at this League meet that Ford recalls her worst track moment. ?At the League Championships, I ran out of the hand off zone and my 4×1 team got disqualified.?

Despite some set backs, Ford learned from past experiences to become the success she is today. Her passion for the sport and desire to do her best at everything she does gives Ford the motivation to excel.

?Aliza is getting better and older,? track coach, Ericlee Gilmore, said. ?She is stronger and is learning from her mistakes. All her experience is coming together.?

In 2005, the girls track team once again came close to victory missing the League title by a mere few points. Yet ford continues on in pursuit of personal goals as well as team goals.

?I want to beat the league record for the hurdles,? Ford said, ?and set the 200 meter and 100 meter school records.?

After the League meet in 2005, the season for many of the track team ended, but Ford continued on and qualified to run in the Valley Championship as an alternate.

Ford thrives from the positive environment which husband and wife coaching team Ericlee and Dorina Gilmore created. Both coaches spend time outside regular practice times to help the team gain experience and Ford credits them with helping her progress.

?Coach Gilmore has taught me to think positively,? Ford said. ?Both Dorina and Gilmore have spent extra time with me even before the season to help me improve. They are very encouraging. The daily devotions before practice add a spiritual aspect to track making it different than other sports.

?I owe thanks to them because they have invested a lot of time helping me at Fresno State and on weekends before the season even started.?

Ford also plays volleyball and soccer, and her athletic ability is evident in each. Yet Ford views track more seriously than the others.

?I like track because it is a social sport,? Ford said. ?There is often a lot of down time at meets giving me time to get to know people and cheer everyone on.?

This season has been a test of perseverance for the team as the torrential downpours of record spring time rain have clouded many hopeful meets. Yet Ford?s love of track is not drowned out by the rains, instead it has ignited her passion to compete.

?My favorite memory of Aliza was before the West Coast Relay race,? Dorina Gilmore said. ?She came to me and told me she was nervous and afraid that people would look down on her being from a small school, but she ran the race and won.?

Success calls for more than an enjoyment of the sport; it takes dedication and commitment to succeed. Due to the absence of a regulation track and other field event facilities, the track team spends extended time to practice at the Fresno State University track.

?I have a passion for track,? Ford said. ?It is important for me to make it to Fresno State to get the experience I need in order to get better on the hurdles and using the starting blocks.?

Ford also takes time to weight train at home to build muscles in her legs. Ford continually pushes herself beyond the limits of her natural ability.

?Aliza has a coachable spirit,? Dorina Gilmore said. ?She is a very intense hard worker. I appreciate her respect for coaching.?

Ford is a quiet leader and leads by example. Ford?s humble spirit makes her a good role model among her teammates.

?Aliza is very determined and competitive,? the girls’ team captain, Jenny Vandenhoek, ?06, said. ?She has a servant?s heart and is always willing to help people. She sees what needs to be done and gets it done.?

Ford?s goals for her track career are to continue to set school records and do her best. Ford hopes to continue track after graduation in 2007 and participate on a college track team.

?She always goes full throttle,? Gilmore said. ?She is the one on the team that I tell the others to watch. She always does things the correct way. She is a fierce competitor and is excellent in all she does.?

Wherever there is a track team member there are smiles and a fun camaraderie among the athletes. They share in the ups and downs of the individual successes and the bonds of the team.

Ford’s example of hard work and perseverance through trying experiences is evident. Success will not end with her track career as her dedication to her goals and commitment to an internal work ethic may carry her and her teammates in the years ahead.

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