Mariah Witt kicked off her varsity running career with bang when she finished fifth in the state for 300-meter hurdles as a ninth grader. So she had high hopes going into her 10th grade season.
Those wishes weren’t to be fulfilled. Although she finished in fifth place again, the performance felt like a disappointment after getting the exact same place the year before.
The disappointment is something Witt still remembers, but it fueled the competitive spirit she brought into last year’s season—a season that ended with a first-place finish in the event and a state title for Hopkins High School's girls team.
“It felt so amazing having no bad feelings to look back on,” Witt said about that race.
That ability to push through adversity paved the way toward Witt’s recent recognition as this year’s recipient of the Athena Award—an honor that recognizes the school’s outstanding female senior athlete.
Witt credits track with teaching her to be mentally tough and persevere through difficult times. The gratification of a race well run is worth whatever painful sensations she feels while actually running, she said.
“It’s like a love-hate relationship, but that’s part of what I love about it,” Witt said.
Witt works hard through all areas of her life. She takes Advanced Placement classes in environmental studies and art, specializing in drawing and painting, and she’s in the choir. She also plays soccer.
Those diverse interests helped her receive the Triple A Award, which recognizes achievement in academics, arts and athletics.
“I love being busy. I’ve learned so much through sports and things that I do,” Witt said.
Witt will specialize a bit more when she enters college. Instead of spreading her time between soccer and track, she’ll be focusing on 400-meter hurdles when she attends Colorado State University.
Looking back on her time in Hopkins, she couldn’t be happier.
“I’m so glad I go here. I don’t have any regrets,” she said.
The Athena Award is presented annually to Hopkins High School's outstanding female senior athlete. The Apollo Award is the counterpart presented to the outstanding male athlete. Click here to read about 2011-12 Apollo Award winner Andy Wicklund.