At 10:20 this morning, Shadoh Deal did what so many Texas high school athletes strive for through months of blood, sweat and tears.
At 10:20 this morning Shadoh, along with seven other girls from across Texas, walked onto the sacred nine-lane track at Mike A. Myers Stadium on the University of Texas campus in Austin, fought the butterflies in her stomach, and waited for her cue to begin the eight-lap mental and physical battle that is the 3200-meter run.
Shadoh, a senior at Maypearl High School, qualified for her first trip to the Texas UIL State Track and Field Championships, which kicked off this morning and will continue through Saturday evening.
“I made it in cross country last year, but this is my first time in track,” Shadoh said Wednesday afternoon. “I’m very excited, but nervous.”
Shadoh’s trip to Austin comes after years of dedication to long distance running, which began in junior high when she participated in a cross country meet.
“In junior high we were going to a cross country meet and I placed ninth,” Shadoh said, explaining that very little, if any, training went into preparing for the meet. “I have no skills in other sports, so I just stuck to running.”
As a freshman at Maypearl, Shadoh qualified for the regional cross country meet. She advanced to the regional track meet in the 3200-meter run and the 1600-meter run her sophomore year. She advanced to the state level in cross country her junior year, however fell just short in track, placing third place in her races at the regional track meet.
“It’s been a goal,” Shadoh said of qualifying for the state track meet. “Track is harder for me. It was probably my sophomore year when I started taking it really seriously.”
When she crossed the finish line at the regional track meet a couple of weeks ago, placing second in the 3200-meter run with a time of 12:13, the feeling of finally reaching one’s goal rushed over her.
“It’s wonderful, especially being my senior year. It’s my last chance,” Shadoh said.
Although Shadoh ran a 5:30.5 mile, her personal best time in the 1600-meter at the regional meet, she just missed out on second place.
Along with participating in track and cross country, Shadoh has kept a busy schedule throughout high school, working as a lifeguard at Lakeview Camp, a group exercise instructor at Maypearl Body Shop and as a waitress at Busy Bee Cafe in Maypearl. She brings in enough money to make the payments on her own truck.
Shadoh also participates in FFA and owns a herd of registered Boer goats, which she sells as show goats.
Shadoh was voted MVP of her cross country team two years during her four years on varsity, MVP of track one year during four years on varsity and received Outstanding Long Distance Runner honors. She is also a National American Miss pageant finalist.
“She’s just a really good kid. She’s got her business together. This year wasn’t really her best year as far as times, and to make it her senior year is really special. It’s a really neat honor,” said Shaena Campbell, Shad-oh’s mother. “We’re really proud of her and we’re going to miss her next year.”
Shadoh will compete for the cross country and track teams at Sam Houston State University this coming fall.
In preparing for the state meet, Shadoh tapered down her workouts.
“Right now it’s pretty much just easy mileage - just an easy run each day,” Shadoh said.
Shadoh explained that when running long distances, she feels the race takes just as much mental endurance as physical.
“It’s one of those things that you actually have to love. It’s about you and how you feel that day. It’s as much physical as it is mental — I like that,” Shadoh said. “I zone out a lot. I try to keep the beat of a song in my head or listen for the people who are cheering for me. That makes me want to do better.”
With a stadium capacity of 20,000 fans, competitors at the state meet can expect a lot of cheering during their events.
At 10:20 this morning, when Shadoh was set to take the track, she could expect to have received encouragement from many people along with her family and friends there to watch her compete at Mike A. Myers Stadium.
Although Shadoh realized she was ranked eighth out of the eight people competing the girls 2A 3200-meter run, she was focused on her goal — beating her personal best time of 12:10.
“As of right now, I’m ranked eighth. Every time I think about that I get nervous,” Shadoh said. “I just want to beat my time, basically — get a personal best.”
E-mail Mandy at firstname.lastname@example.org