No debate: Smith will run at Pratt
Elizabeth Smith had decided four years ago that she wouldn't run in high school.
But a coach's plea put Smith on the Tonganoxie cross country course, and now she'll be running in college.
Smith, who also runs track for the Chieftains, recently signed with Pratt Community College to compete in both sports.
"It's just a small college," Smith said. "I wanted to start out small. Plus, they're offering me a scholarship."
Smith's interest in running started in grade school, but during the summer before her freshman year, she debated going out.
"Will came and found me and said, 'Please come out,'" Smith said about THS cross country coach Phil Williams. "I actually started practice a week late my freshman year.
"I wasn't going to do it, but he came and found me and talked me into doing it."
Since then, the senior has competed every season in cross country and track. Smith averages about a 13:30 in both cross country and the 3,200 meters in track.
Last week, Smith placed fourth at the Lansing Invitational and fifth at the Bobcat Relays in Basehor.
With the 3,200 being one of the last events at a track meet, Smith has plenty of free time at track meets.
"I stand around for six hours waiting for it," Smith said.
And then when she steps on the track, Smith makes eight laps around the track, so the scenery isn't at quite the level it is at a cross country meet.
But that doesn't bother Smith.
"I get in this zone in track," she said. "All I see is the track. I hear about three people -- my dad, Will and Mr. (Bill) Shaw. I don't see anything else."
Aside from Pratt, Smith also had her eyes on Barton County Community College, but she said BCCC focuses more on sprints than long-distance events.
When her two years are completed at Pratt, Smith, who plans to major in math education, again will debate whether to continue running.
"If I can run that would be awesome, if I improve enough to be able to do that," Smith said. "I'm looking at Emporia State if I'm in the direction of teaching."