Salute to Seniors: Grace Hawryluk

Before the class of 2020 makes their final farewells to high school cross country and track and field, we want to give everyone a chance to salute them one more time! FLRunners invites all seniors to tell their stories from the past four years.

Today we salute Mainland senior, Grace Hawryluk.

    What was your most memorable race/throw/jump/vault/moment?

    Throughout my four years of running track, there have been a lot of memorable moments.The roadto states as a sophomore was the beginning of my running career. As a freshman, I never thought I would end up on a relay team because I ran the 400 and only focused on that. By the middle of sophomore year, I was forced into running the 4x8. Let me tell you, it was honestly the worst pain I've ever felt in my life. My school had never had a great middle distance or distance team, most of the runners were sprinters.So, two 400 runners, a hurdler, and an 800 runner were placed on the relay team.None of us really knew how to run a relay at first and we just needed a time for districts.We weren't supposed to do well in the district based on our time at that moment. Matanzas was seeded first, with a time of ten flat. Psyching ourselves out the night beforewe really needed to run a good race. We ended up placing first, with a time often minutes and thirty seconds. It wasn't the best time, but for us it was the beginning of something amazing. The relay team was not projected to make it out of the region because we were ranked sixth. The night before regionals, my team went out to dinner and joked about running a ten flat. The next morning all nerves were present on the start line. Our first leg kept us in the front and by the time our second leg handed me the baton, we were in fourth.As third leg, I knew it was my job to play catch up. I ended up catching first, opening up a fifty-meter lead for our last leg. She finished first and crossed the line at ten flat. We never planned on making it to states, but we sure surprised ourselves. It took countless hours of training and hard work just to make it there. I was a part of a school record and we were even featured in the local news journal. Though we did not do well at states, the experience making it there was still amazing.

    Who would you consider your biggest competition over your four years?

    Over my four years, my biggest competition would probably have to be Spruce Creek's 4x4 and 4x8 team. I have competed with most of the girls before and they were extremely fast. If it were an individual person, it would most definitely be Emma Jane Schlageter from New Smyrna. We were friends before we started high school, but on the track, we were"rivals". We were both the top two 800 runners in the district. When it came to the open 800, she would always beat me. Although, when it came to the 4x800, it was the complete opposite. She really pushed me to become a better open runner.

    What was your greatest accomplishment?

    My greatest accomplishment was making it to states two years in a row and competing at Bob Hayes.

    Who would you consider your biggest role model over your four years competing?

    My biggest role model over my four years of running would most definitely be my middle-distance coach. Even though Coach Keisha came during my sophomore year, she had a big influence in my life. She's the person who forced me into running relays and I am so grateful that she did. I would not have made it to states or improved if it wasn't for her. From painful practices to words of advice, she was always there. I cannot thank her enough for making me realize that I truly loved running.

    If you could do it all over again what would you change about your running or field career in high school?

    If I could re-do my four years, I would only change one thing. I would've gone back just to push myself a little bit harder than I did. I let a lot of personal things get to me and you could just tell based on my attitude towards practices.

    What were the most difficult obstacles you had to overcome? How did you overcome them?

    The most difficult obstacle I had to overcome was learning to push myself on the track. I eventually got myself together and changed my outlook on certain things. Instead of skipping practices because of things at home, I would just go out and run.Running was my escape from everything.

    What will you miss the most?

    I will miss the team the most out of everything. I spent four years of my life with them, they're family to me now. The early morning and late-night bus rides to /from meets, the jokes and laughs heard from miles away, everyone cheering people on, and the hard work we put in. I cannot wait for my little sister to experience everything I did.

    What advice would you give to younger athletes?

    Force yourself out of your comfort zone. Make new friends and try new things but be the best you can be. Make every single moment count and do NOT take it for granted at all.

    What influence has your coach had with respect to your performance and overall life goals?

    All my coaches pushed me to become a better athlete and person. Without their support, I would not have accomplished anything at all. They put together hours of practices, meets, and fundraisers for all of us.My coaches influenced me to be respectful of other athletes and to help wherever I can. College wasn't really my goal when I first started high school, but they opened opportunities for me. If it wasn't for their support in the classroom, I would not be where I am currently.

    What are your post-high school or college plans?

    I plan to attend the University of North Florida to pursue my academic education in their pre-law program. I also plan on walking on to their soccer team.

    Who would you like to say 'thank you' to?

    I would like to thank my coaches for not giving up on me at all throughout my four years. I would also like to thank my friends and family members for coming out to support me. To my track teammates who are like family as well, y'all are the best people ever.