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Warriors' Harnett can jump for joy

June 07, 2007|by ANDREW MASON

Winning can be fun, really.

Just ask Hayley Harnett, who waited until this spring to finally enjoy it.

The Boonsboro senior won Maryland Class 1A state titles in the long jump and 800-meter run, and has been named the 2007 Washington County Girls Track & Field Athlete of the Year by The Herald-Mail.

"I'm just glad it all ended the way it did," Harnett said. "I didn't want to be one of those people who used to be really good and then it was like, 'What happened to them?' I wanted to go out the way I came in.

"I didn't want to be one of those people who just fades out, because sometimes it happens."

It started happening to her last year.

After winning the 400 and 800 at states as a freshman and capturing gold medals in the 800, 800 relay and 1,600 relay as a sophomore, Harnett was left empty-handed as a junior. But the sport had left her feeling empty long before last spring's state meet.

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"In 11th grade, I just didn't care so much," she said. "I guess I kind of lost interest. And when you start losing interest, you don't do as well. And when you don't do as well, you lose even more interest. It was a downward cycle.

"It was hard because people would come up to me and say, 'What's wrong with you?' I wasn't even sure if I'd run this year, that's how bad it was."

Even when Harnett was winning everything as a freshman and sophomore, something seemed wrong.

"When you're the favorite to win, it's a lot of pressure. I'd get really nervous and worked up about it because there was so much pressure," she said. "I was taking everything way too seriously. I'd get so nervous the week before a race that I couldn't sleep. I'd just dread it.

"I needed to make it fun again."

Harnett needed some time to herself.

"I took last summer off, and then did some fun races in the fall, like some 5Ks in Baltimore," she said. "Then this year, I just didn't let myself get as nervous. And I got a lot of confidence back at practices. I wanted to be there again."

Harnett began long jumping for the first time this spring, while maintaining her focus on her top event - the 800.

"The long jump was perfect," she said. "I had a lot of fun with it, and it got me warmed up for the 800 without getting me exhausted."

At states last month, Harnett broke a 19-year-old county record in the 800 with her winning time of 2:19.57. The previous record of 2:19.84 was set in 1988 by North Hagerstown's Lynn Ziegler.

Harnett also set a school record in the long jump with her state-winning leap of 17 feet, 7 1/2 inches, and she ran the leadoff leg of the Warriors' second-place 3,200 relay at states.

"I'm just so glad I got it back in time to do well at states," she said.

Harnett's now set to receive a partial scholarship from Marist College in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., to compete at the NCAA Division I level for the Red Foxes.

"I'm not expecting to win or anything like that in college, but it will be fun. It will be a change, but it will be nice," she said. "Hopefully they'll let me jump there, because I really liked that."

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