LIMA — Lima Central Catholic’s Emily Sreenan has never backed down from challenges throughout her stellar high school running career.
Last fall, as a junior, Sreenan ran away from a very strong pack of competitors at the Division III state cross country meet, en route to her first state title. Sreenan defeated her closest competitor at last year’s state meet by nearly 24 seconds.
However, this cross-country season, Sreenan is facing more than just a long list of competitors.
This past spring, Sreenan battled through a nagging injury, as she went on to compete in both the 1,600- and 3,200-meter runs at the D-III state track-and-field meet. She placed third in the 1,600 and 10th in the 3,200.
Ever since the state track meet, Sreenan has undergone therapy and just recently was cleared to resume racing. Normally, Sreenan is logging nearly 50-mile weeks by August.
Now, it’s all about getting back to the high level she was at before.
At Tuesday’s annual dual meet with Shawnee at Faurot Park, Sreenan showed signs of coming back, as she won the girls race in 21 minutes, 58 seconds, on a very hilly 5,000-meter course. Shawnee’s Ann Hardy finished second in the girls race in 22:32. Rounding out the top five for Shawnee included Lexie Marshall (23:11), Emily Bryan (24:36) and Hanna Watt (25:13).
“At the end of track season, like the beginning of May and right before districts, my hips started hurting,” Sreenan said. “I had that during my freshman year, so I knew it was IT band tendinitis. So, I tried to get it taken care of right away. But, since it was the end of the season and tournament time, I really didn’t get to stop. So, it just got progressively worse.
“Then state (track meet) was so hot that day, and I couldn’t lengthen my stride at all, and it was awful. So, I took three weeks off after state, and then tried to get the cross-country team together to condition this summer. It really didn’t get any better. So, I just started doing a ton of rehab all summer long. I really didn’t get many miles in, like I wanted to. So, I’m a little out of shape, cardio-wise. But, the tendinitis is pretty much gone.”
LCC did not field a full squad, so there were no team scores recorded.
“I’ve got three seconds (to take off) to beat the state record for Division III,” Sreenan said with a smile. “I ran an 18:01 last year (at the state meet), and the state record is like a 17:58. So, that’s my ultimate, ultimate goal.”
Longtime LCC coach Mike Griffo said he doesn’t put any added pressure on Sreenan.
“I really don’t talk to her too much about it (state title),” Griffo said. “She’s a really smart runner. She knows what to expect from herself.”
Shawnee junior Josh Kuhlman won Tuesday’s boys race in 18:26. Shawnee placed five runners in the top seven overall, en route to winning the team title over LCC, 18-43. LCC’s Quentin Potempa finished fourth (19:13).
Kuhlman took the lead about 800 meters into the race, and was never challenged.
“I just kind of drafted off people to see where they were about the first half mile,” Kuhlman said. “Then after that, I took off. I felt pretty much in control of the race after that.”
In the middle school races, Shawnee won the girls team title over LCC, 16-45. On the boys side, LCC did not have enough runners to record a team score.
The Lima News sports department can be reached at 567-242-0451.