Salute To Seniors: Jillian Valentin - FergusonWhat was your most memorable race?
My most memorable race had to have been this season FHSAA 4A State Meet the 4x4. Going to state was a big thing for me because it was my first time. More than anything I wanted a state medal. All season we had been trying to break 4:00 mark in the 4x4. I told myself that I was going to run hard from start to finish whether I die or not. I was second leg in the 4x4 and our coach told us were ranked 13th and if we ran fast and won the slow heat we'd have a shot on the podium. So we we ran our hearts out every last bit of speed we had it was us against the clock. When I got the baton I took off. When I handed off the baton I couldn't feel my legs they were extremely heavy and my coach in the stands yells "JILLL!!! YOU JUST RAN A 56!!" I started to cry. I did it finally a PR finally faster than a 58. When we finished he yells again "3:57!! SCHOOL RECORD!!" We waited patiently on the infield for the fast heat to finish. Once it finished we waited for the results and sure enough we got that last spot 8th in the 4x4. We made it on the podium and came home with a state medal.
What would you consider your biggest competition?
My biggest competition had to have been 2012 Region 4 FHSAA 4A Meet. When I made it to finals in the 400 from the second best time to the 6th we were all fighting for the last three spots to qualifying for state. I've never been so nervous in my life even though I finished 5th, one spot away from qualifying. It was a heck of a race with everyone neck and neck. Definitely gave me a run for my money.
Out of all of your high school accomplishments which stands out the most?
My greatest high school accomplishment was the 2011 district meet. In track season of 2010 I had a severe injury. I tore four liigaments in my right knee, my ACL MCL Medial and Lateral meniscus. I went through surgery and 12 months of rehab. When I came back in 2011 my main goal was to run a 58 again and to win my district titles back and I did it. I won the 200 and 400 and was district champion for the second year. That year I was proud to say I made a comeback and my goals were met.
If you could do it all over again what would you change about your running career in high school?
My four years competing for John A. Ferguson and having the pleasure of being coached by and amazing coach, Ryan Raposo was the best experience. Even though I would've wanted to be better in the 800 I only think that way because of the progress I've made this season. I wouldn't give up my four years of hard work and dedication for anything. You can't always get what you want but you can try to make something out of everything. Whatever the case may be always give 100 percent and nothing less.
What were the most difficult obstacles you had to overcome?
My most difficult obstacle I had to overcome was my injury my sophomore year. Track season 2010 was looking to be a great one for me after my finish freshman year. The season just started and in the second race into the season I tore my ACL, MCL, Medial and Lateral Meniscus triple jumping. When I got the news from the doctor that I wasn't able to come back at all that season and that I would need surgery I felt like my world was ending. I truly thought I was never coming back. I psyched myself out. I read many articles that athletes were not performing as great as they did before the surgery and some were better than before. I didn't believe that I could come back better. As a sprinter that's all I did was speed work. I was scared that I was going to lose it all and have to transition myself into a distance runner and Coach Raposo would have to do a full 180 on my training regiment. I hit a bump in my rehab and I got completely lost in the mentality that I wasn't going to be better or the same. With my girls team by my side as well as Raposo motivating me, they helped me overcome this bump. They made sure I was doing rehab right and actually giving my full effort. I succeeded and I can proudly say that I came out a stronger and better athlete.
What will you miss the most?
One thing I will miss the most is my team. I've been with two girls for the past 4 years and we have been there for each other through thick and thin, all our bad races and all our amazing races. When you are on a team for four years that's so close, your teammates the ones you are with all day become your family. These two girls have became my sisters. Not only will I miss them but i will also miss the experience I had competing. As a Coach, Raposo always made an effort to mix fun and serious together. Yes we had our share of laughs and jokes but when it was time to be serious we were serious. My coach always says "you spend more time with me and your team than you do with your own family" he completely true he's became a second dad to me and I'm great full I was able to be apart of his team the past four years.
Do you have any advice for younger athletes?
Always listen to your coaches they are right 9 out of 10 times. Never give up or look down. Always keep your head up. Remember that one bad race isn't going to kill you. Go home analyze your race whether it be lap by lap, 100 by 100 or mile by mile, and you find the wrong so this way your next race you race better. Winning isn't everything. You're a winner if you tell your self and you accomplish your goals and dreams.
What are your college plans?
I plan to attend college and continue running. Whether it be on a team or on my own. I plan on majoring in sports medicine and hopefully a physical therapist for student athletes. I want to help any kids in rehab who hit a bump just like I did
Who would you like to say thank you to?
I would like to thank my mom for always being there never missing a single race. Even though she's got on my nerves plenty of times I know it's only because she cares and loves me and she only wants what's best for me. I thank my coach for molding me into the athlete I am today and for never giving up on me no matter what the circumstances were. Raposo you were always there for me even when I couldn't talk to my own mom. You believed in me at my worst times and helped me never give up on myself. Thank you for the amazing experience I had throughout high school. I don't know how four years in high school would have been if it wasn't for your program. Thank you for everything.