GENOA – Genoa-Kingston sophomore Brianna Kramer hated the 300-meter hurdles early in her freshman year.
That didn’t surprise coach Barry Schmidt. The event is a grueling combination of sprinting and jumping that can leave inexperienced athletes exhausted by the time they arrive at the last hurdle.
“Mentally, it’s really challenging,” Schmidt said. “It’s still a sprint, even though by the end, your legs are so tired that you can barely lift them, but you have to go over a barrier, too.”
But that didn’t stop Schmidt from penciling Kramer into the event meet after meet last year.
That didn’t go over well with Kramer early in the season.
“When I first ran it, I hated it. I didn’t even want to try it at all,” Kramer said. “It seemed like such a long distance, and I enjoy more of the shorter distance. It ended up being a pretty good race for me.”
The freshman surprised Schmidt early in the season. After injuring herself in the 100 high hurdles, he decided Kramer should focus on the 300 hurdles for the rest of the season.
They’re both glad he made that decision.
Throughout the year, Kramer became comfortable with the event, realizing that the strategy was more like a sprint than a middle-distance event.
“What she had some difficulty with was knowing that you have to go hard the whole race,” Schmidt said. “What helped her out was that she started pushing really hard on those first three hurdles. She really adapted to it well. She had some really nice times at the start.”
Kramer finished in second place in the Class 1A Plano Sectional to become one of two Genoa-Kingston state qualifiers.
But the state meet was a struggle for Kramer.
She lagged behind throughout the race, running more than two seconds slower than she ran at the sectionals. She finished in last place.
“I didn’t run as hard as I had in sectionals,” Kramer said. “Maybe I thought since I already made it there, I wouldn’t have to try extra hard.”
This year, that kind of effort won’t be good enough for Kramer.
The Cogs were moved up to Class 2A this year after the IHSA rebalanced the classes in all sports, which will make qualifying more difficult. But Kramer is confident she can improve on last year’s time.
“Especially since we’ve moved up in [class] I need to be on top of my game and work extra hard this year,” Kramer said. “I feel that if I put in enough effort and have more confidence, I feel like I can really improve. I think it was good going [to the state meet] and seeing what it’s like.”