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Breakout junior season for Belmont's Hickey

Katherine Hickey closes in on the BHS school record in the 400 meters with another year to go

Belmont track star Katherine Hickey will look to turn in an encore performance to her spectacular junior season next winter and spring for the Red Raiders. File Photo. (click for larger version)
July 04, 2011
BELMONT – After an outstanding year on the track saw her qualify for the New England Championships last month, Katherine Hickey still has one more year at Belmont High School to check off some more goals and accomplishments.

The BHS junior used a breakthrough indoor track season to catapult her into the upper levels of the outdoor season, as she finished second in the Division III State Championship in the 400 meters.

"The thing that helped the most I think was the in between seasons, where we trained for a few days every week just to keep involved," said Hickey of the training she did during the month of March. "And that helped me as far as being in shape right when outdoor season started. Last year I wasn't in shape like I was this year when it started."

Hickey's spring also saw her break 60 seconds in the 400, as she now has her sights set on the school record of 58.8 seconds set by Courtney Bates in 2002. Hickey's personal best this spring was 59.17 seconds, set at the New England meet.

"I want the school record really badly," she admitted with a smile. "It bothers me so much. I was thinking about it the other day how I am so close, and if I don't get it next year, I'm going to be so mad. We're going to try a new start next year and hopefully that'll help a bit. I kind of rocked this year when I started so I think we're gonna try (starting) blocks next year."

Longtime Belmont coach John Goegel, who aided Aaron Hayward and Dave Benedetto this spring, thinks Hickey's got the ability to make a dent in the school record books if she continues her rise from this season.

"I think success does breed success," he explained. "As the season went on, from indoor to outdoor, she really believed in her ability and became more determined to reach her potential. I think one thing you come to realize when you race at that level is your foot is constantly on the accelerator. When you're at that level, you're constantly pushing and pushing."

After finishing third at the Wilderness League Championships, Hickey stepped up her game in the state meet the following week. Battling Ashley Lord of Raymond and Shannon O'Neil from Berlin in pretty much every big meet, Hickey's time of 59.51 enabled her to take home second behind Lord.

"The girls from Berlin and Raymond beat me at Wilderness so that whole week leading into States, I just had it in my head that I wanted to beat them," Hickey recalled. "The girl from Berlin (O'Neil), we'd race against each other all season and it felt like she would always beat me. It was just a relief when I finally beat her."

Hickey then went on to finish sixth in the Meet of Champions, allowing her the trip to Burlington, Vt. for New Englands.

"My goal going into New Englands was to get the school record but it was just really to have fun," she said. "I knew I wasn't advancing at that point because I saw some of the top girls and they were really good. I just wanted to have fun, I didn't want to think about whether it was an important race or not. I realized I should probably run every race like that, because I put a lot of pressure on myself to do well and I had my best time when I just relaxed a little bit."

While Hickey started the outdoor season running the 800, she decided the stick to the 400 after some early season success in the event. After running the 600 meters during indoor, the 400 provides a different kind of challenge.

"The 600 is harder than the 400, just in the sense that the indoor tracks are smaller and you think about it differently because of how many laps you have to run (three)," she said. "It's more of a mental thing than anything. I find the 800 hell. You sit there and you think about it. You run hard for a lap and then you finish it and you have to do it all over again."

Hickey said her style in big races is to hang around until the final stretch, where she uses her late kick to pass competitors.

"In a race, you don't really realize where everyone is until you hit the last corner," she explained. "I let them kind of get ahead and the last 100, I push and try and get there."

Goegel said Hickey's final few weeks of the season during the big meets saw her focus on different parts of the race, hoping to improve the first 50 meters since she already has a solid final 100.

"I think running has given her a lot and I think she sees it'll have its benefits down the roads," the coach said. "I think she enjoys the competitive aspect and the team aspect of it as well. She gets along very well with everyone on the team, and she's as supportive of them as they are of her. I think she's got the bug, she wants to get that school record."

While Hickey will be hard at work training during the summer, she'll play soccer in the fall before entering her final indoor and outdoor track seasons. With the school record in the 400 just 0.3 seconds away, senior year should prove to be just as exciting as her junior campaign.

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