Speedster Sprints For State

Freshman Junior Olympian goes for speedy victory

James Carroll, Staff Writer

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After getting first place at district, freshman Adele Clarke will travel tomorrow to Old Settlers Park in Round Rock to compete at state in the two-mile event. The beginning of her running career, however, started much differently than where it is currently: Losing a race in her fourth-grade track and field day.

“I was mad that I had lost a race, so I wanted to get into running,” Adele said. “I started training and running more.”

Her father, Tom Clarke, signed himself and Adele up for a training program at Luke’s Locker to begin her training.  

“She started training with me and another group of runners at… a speed training program there,” Tom said. “I think probably halfway into that was when she started getting that passion where she loved to run.”

After training there for a while, Adele and her father heard about a speed training group called Speedkidz. When she joined, Adele and her team qualified for the Junior Olympics in Tallahassee, Florida, where they placed eighth overall.

“It was a huge, huge race, there was so many people,” Adele said. “The course was kinda muddy because it had been raining, and it was also really cold for Florida, which is different. We had all lined up and we were super cold, then got into the race.”

In addition to competing at the Junior Olympics, Speedkidz also gave Adele the opportunity to meet her personal trainer and inspiration: Dawn Grunnagle.

“She’s qualified for the Olympics three times now I think, and she just ran the Berlin marathon and placed 15th overall, first American,” Adele said. “She’s always been my inspiration.”

Tom and Adele drive down to Highland Park two times every week so Adele can train and set goals for herself with Grunnagle.

“We have a good relationship, she’s an awesome coach, came very highly recommended,” Tom said. “I think she brings a little more out of Adele: I’ve seen her change as far as not just her performance, but her overall attitude from what she’s learned from Grunnagle.”

Tom saw the change in mindset when he was training with Adele one day in Plano.

“We were doing hill sprints up and down, up and down, up and down, and I was always faster, I’d always beat her up the hill,” Tom said. “And this one day we’re going up the hill, we’re like neck and neck going up this hill, and she goes ‘Not today,’ and pulled ahead of me and beat me to the top.”

After finishing well in the majority of her competitions in middle school, Adele moved on to high school cross-country, where she met state qualifier Hannah Thompson at the first cross country practice of the season.    

“I’d heard about her but I actually got to meet her this year,” Thompson said. “She was fast. She gave me competition, which I love competition, so it was great.

With state looming, Adele looks to distance herself from the rest of the competition.

“She works super-duper hard so I mean it pays off,” Thompson said. “She is proof that if you work hard great things will happen.”

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