GIRLS WINNER: Keisha Richburg - Senior @ Miami Northwestern
Miami Northwestern senior Keisha Richburg knew what it was like to win a state title. She watched her fellow Lady Bulls take home the team championship the past three consecutive seasons, but she wanted one of her own. Her final year of high school she decided to focus on the 300 meter hurdles. Coach Carmen Jackson calls Richburg’s senior season a break out year.
“She’s been with me for four years and after her ninth grade year I knew she had potential. Her tenth and eleventh grade years she struggled with a lot of personal things, but when she ran the hurdles I knew it was just a matter of time. She wasn’t a hurdler when she started but at the end of the season she had knack for them. I knew if I put her in them I’d be fine.”
Richburg faltered several times in the postseason but regained her composure when it mattered the most battling flu like symptoms in the state finals. The senior posted one of the best times in the nation in the 300 hurdles, 43.19.
“Going into the state meet we had to give her a lot of fluids: Gatorade, water, and she had to take IB Profin every 48 hours. After each race the coaches would discuss her status and I told them she is a veteran and she needs to hold on. When she got to the 300’s she felt a little woozy, but going into the finals I told her she had to persevere. If she wasn’t sick she would have ran 42 or 41.9.”
That perseverance and renewed attitude describes Richburg’s last couple years at Northwestern. As a sophomore and junior Jackson says she had lost her focus on the track but sees her whole career as a blessing in disguise.
“I think her struggles helped the athletes who are returning to get a new light because it showed them about focused. The kids saw the struggle and that she was off track and how as a senior she committed all the way and rose to the top. Each year I’ve had unique athletes and I’ve had many great athletes, but the similarities are love, dedications, and passion for the sport. The three come together when nobody is in the stands and you have to come out in the hot sun and work to reach your goals.”
Northwestern’s string of state championships lie in it depth as a program. Whether it is sprints, jumps, relays, even field events, the Lady Bulls have a slew of contributors which equates to a slew of points, and a slew of titles. Richburg’s flrunners.com profile lists her specialties as 100H, 300H, 400, 800, 4x8, and high jump. There isn’t much the senior can’t do. Coach Jackson says her versatility was integral to their success all season long.
“I was talking to LSU a couple days ago and they asked me that same question, what can she do? She’s a multiple event athlete who has the talent to do anything. Coaches love her body make up. She is lean, aggressive in her races, and she’s mean. Most great athletes have a killer instinct to compete because you can’t be afraid. Keisha Richburg can do a lot of events well. She’s jumped 18 feet in the long jump, but I’ve never had to use her. She can do the triple jump, high jump (she’s cleared 5-04), she’s done the 100, 200, you can put her at any event and she can compete at the national level. You take great athletes and you revolve your team around them.”
As school comes to a close in the coming weeks Richburg will have a tough decision to make, where will she spend the next four years? According to Jackson the senior has offers from some of the top programs in the country including Clemson, LSU, South Carolina, Florida, and Florida State. Although she would not name them she says Richburg is down to a final three and should have a decision by the first week of June. Whatever school lands her will definitely be getting a gem.
“I think her event will be the quarter hurdles. If she goes to college and stays committed and trains hard, and works hard in practice, she has the skills to be an Olympian. If she stays focused the world is hers.”
100 Meter Hurdles 14.54
300 Meter Hurdles 41.95
400 Meter Dash 57.80
800 Meter Run 2:22.20