SunRidge Middle hurdler to compete for state title
| 9:55 a.m. May 7, 2015
West Orange Times & Observer
WINTER GARDEN — Like many middle-school-age youths, Courtney Cochrane wants to be just like her dad when she gets older.
What makes Courtney’s desire more unique, though, is that her dad, Rick, was a hurdler for Florida State University back in the late 1980s.
Accordingly, Courtney — an eighth-grader at SunRidge Middle School — has set a rather specific goal for herself.
“My dad ran hurdles when he was in high school, middle school and college, so that’s sort of what made me really want to be a hurdler,” Courtney explains. “I really want to go to college. I want to go to FSU on a scholarship for track — that’s what I think about (for motivation).”
Despite her age, Courtney is already on the right path: She will compete for the second consecutive year in the 100- and 200-meter hurdles at the Florida Youth Running Association’s Middle School State Championships Saturday at IMG Stadium in Bradenton.
For Rick, also her main coach for track, ever since his younger daughter (Courtney’s older sister Caitlyn Cochrane is a junior at West Orange) took a liking to hurdles, practicing on mini-hurdles he constructed for her when she was just 7 years old, there has been a certain sense of pride that she chose to do so.
“The first part of running hurdles is, ‘Are you brave enough to do it?’” Rick said.
Hurdles are just part of the equation for this Winter Garden youth, though. Courtney also plays club soccer and played for the team at SunRidge, for which she also runs. Orange County middle schools do not compete formally in hurdles, so instead, she competes in her chosen event through AAU and club competition.
“Her work ethic blows me away,” Rick said. “She is one of the hardest-working kids I’ve ever seen — my wife and I coached youth soccer for a while, so we’ve got a lot of athletes to compare her with.”
Although Courtney likes soccer — it was her mom’s chosen sport, and she especially likes the team element of the game — she has no misgivings about how she prioritizes her interests.
“(Soccer is) really my ‘fun sport,’” Courtney said. “Track is the sport I want to be great in.”
That pursuit of greatness has had a favorable impact on the relationship between the father and daughter, as his role as her main coach creates plenty of time to bond.
“My favorite part of training is probably being with my dad,” Courtney said. “We joke around a lot.”
Courtney gets nervous when she talks about Saturday’s meet, remembering she didn’t perform up to her potential as a seventh-grader, though she has improved markedly. Courtney placed 30th last year, but her first time at a meet this year would have been good enough for a 15th-place finish.
That improvement, paired with a desire to get further acclimated to the big-meet atmosphere and running in front of larger crowds, are the real goals for the meet on Saturday, Rick said.
“What I talk to her about is, ‘You don’t have to be the best in eighth grade, you don’t have to be the best in ninth grade — you just have to improve year over year,’” Rick said. “We still want her to compete just for that experience, the big-meet experience. … We’re really working toward high school.”
How Courtney will do when she suits up as a West Orange Warrior, and whether she one day suits up for the Seminoles, are things that the Cochranes will learn in time. For now, what’s ahead of Courtney is Saturday’s meet and a busy summer schedule.
Good thing she has a proud dad to help her along the way.
“I’m extremely proud of her efforts and everything she does in soccer and track,” Rick said.