Good thing Colleen Uzoekwe spent most of her summer in the weight room, packing on muscle and strengthening her core.
With four first-place Metro League district medals draped around her neck, postseason season hardware can get mighty heavy.
The Westview junior proved she's not only the Metro's fastest woman but its most versatile as well, racing to sprint crowns in the 100 and 200 while winning the high jump (5-08) and long jump (18-02) at the Metro League district championship on May 16 at Aloha High School.
"I'm very grateful and I definitely feel all of my hard work has paid off," Uzoekwe said. "I just thank God for everything He's done because without Him none of this is possible. I don't think all of this has sunk in yet. I'm still in shock and disbelief. To come this far is just amazing."
Uzoekwe said she wants three state titles at least in the 100, high and long jumps at the Class 6A state championship meet on Friday and Saturday at Mt. Hood Community College.
"I want to come in battling," Uzoekwe said. "I want to try and get personal records because there's going to be a lot of competition and hopefully win."
Uzoekwe won't be the only Wildcat or Metro champion competing on the state stage. Fellow Westview junior Emma Baughman won the 400 to help the Wildcats capture their fifth individual title as a team. Sunset junior Lucy Huelskamp won both the 1,500 and 3,000 meters. Beaverton senior Katarina Bosworth won the 100 hurdles by nearly full second over the rest of the field. Mountainside junior Katey Krisky won the discus with a personal best of 118-05. Sunset sophomore Dale Thompson cleared 11-09 in the pole vault to take top honors and fellow sophomore Lydia Barnett jumped 37-10.75 in the triple jump for first place as well.
Blazing speed and bunny hops, Uzoekwe is the rare athlete gifted with both. And over the summer the Wildcat dedicated herself to the weight room, pouring in hours on squat racks and clean-and-snatch platforms that wielded a new level of muscularity to her already supple physique. The workload wasn't always easy, but it was worthwhile.
"It was painful," Uzoekwe said with a smile. "It was hard, but I'm happy that I broke through and came through. I had never lifted weights before, so that definitely gave me more power. And in the 100, it helped with my speed and endurance. Before, I didn't have any endurance coming in."
Her times plummeted while her marks in each field event skyrocketed. It's been the best of both worlds. Uzoekwe separated herself from a district that sends droves of athletes to the state stage every spring. Uzoekwe said her parents paid her participation fee as a middle school track athlete to get her into the sport and have been by her side ever since.
"I'm glad all the stuff they did, all the money they spent for hasn't gone to waste," Uzoekwe said with a laugh. "It's been a wonderful experience."
Quality local journalism takes time and money, which comes, in part, from paying readers. If you enjoy articles like this one, please consider supporting us.
(It costs just a few cents a day.)