Harvard senior Sophie Stricker will keep hearing the sales pitch from Hornets girls track and field coach Casey Seyller for a few more weeks.
Seyller wants Stricker to walk on to Wisconsin’s women’s team next year when she attends the Madison school.
“She wants to, she’s a little afraid to, she doesn’t think she has it,” Seyller said. “I talk to her all the time about walking on. She’s so strong. She can do even better in college with coaches focusing on her stride and form.”
Stricker is the decisive favorite in the 400 meters at the McHenry County Track and Field Meet, which starts at 4 p.m. Thursday at Huntley with field events finals and running preliminaries in the 100 and 200 meters, along with the high hurdles. Running finals start at 5 p.m. on Friday.
Stricker is the defending champion in the girls 200 and 400. She was the first girls county champion from Harvard that Seyller could remember in his 14 years at the school.
At last week’s Ed Reeves Invitational at Marengo, Stricker ran 1:00.5. They hope she will reach the 59 range on Friday.
“The season’s gone pretty well so far and I feel more confident after the last few meets I’ve had that I’ll be able to run the times I want,” said Stricker, who will run in the 100, 200 and 400.
Stricker embraces the 400, a race many athletes dread since it’s a full-out sprint for an entire lap.
“I like that no one really likes it, that it’s hard,” Stricker said. “Just knowing that I can finish it and it’s a hard race to run makes me feel accomplished. Over the years, I’ve worked on running my first 200 [in the 400] faster because I don’t always come out as fast and I like to kick at the end. I work on getting out faster to have a faster race.”
Seyller thinks Stricker is positioned right where she needs to be.
“Her kick is unreal and her starts are a lot better,” Seyller said. “We just have to get a little bit more endurance in her, and that’s coming. I’m really happy with where she’s at, she looks good, she’s healthy, as long as she stays healthy, I think she’ll beat her time from last year.”
Stricker finished sixth in the 400 at the Class 2A state meet with a 58.26, her fastest time ever which beat her own school record. Natalie Bannwolf had the old record at 58.8 before last year.
“I’m excited that I broke the 400 school record, that was my goal going into high school and I finally broke it,” Stricker said. “That was really exciting for me.”
Stricker plans to major in business at Wisconsin. She considered running in college, but liked Wisconsin so much and was uncertain she could compete at that level. Seyller will continue trying to sell the girl he considers Harvard’s best girls sprinter ever on competing for the Badgers.
“If she walked on, and they gave her a chance, they’d be surprised at how well she can do,” Seyller said.
McHenry County Track and Field Meet
When: 4 p.m. Thursday for field events, running preliminaries; 5 p.m. Friday for running finals.
Where: Huntley’s Harmony Road Campus Stadium.
Competing schools (boys and girls): Alden-Hebron, Cary-Grove, Crystal Lake Central, Crystal Lake South, Harvard, Huntley, Jacobs, Johnsburg, Marengo, Marian Central, McHenry, Prairie Ridge, Richmond-Burton, Woodstock and Woodstock North.
Defending team champions: Cary-Grove girls, Huntley boys.