For Olympic's Megan Walker-Richards racing only gets ...

With bright red curly hair and a dazzling smile, it’s hard to think of Megan Walker-Richards as tough. But when she laces on her running shoes and hits the pavement, the Olympic High School senior who dreams of being a high school math teacher becomes a long-distance machine who has her sights set on winning her first state title in the 3,200.

Walker-Richards started her track career as a sprinter when she was a seventh grader at Fairview Junior High School. When she reached the ninth grade she left sprinting behind to pursue the grueling world of cross-country and distance racing where she has shined, taking part in four state cross-country meets.

She said the time spent in a race is the biggest difference between sprinting and distance.

“In sprinting, it’s over before you have time to think about it,” she said. “In distance running you have lots of time to think during a race.”

Olympic distance coach Greg Chapman said his prize pupil has less time to think on the track now than she did as a sophomore.

“She’s running a minute faster in the 3,200 and her mile time has dropped 20 seconds,” Chapman said. “At the Narrows League meet she qualified in the 800, 1,600 and 3,200 and was one of the fastest runners out there in the 4x400 relay.”

But it’s the 3,200 where Walker-Richards takes off. She qualified to run at the state Class 4A Star Track meet in Tacoma yesterday following a strong performance at the district meet last weekend where she finished fifth in 11:26.22.

“I’m just going out there to run a great race and have a good time at it,” she said Tuesday, May 21. “I’m not that concerned about having a good finishing time, I just want to do my best.”

This fall, she plans on heading off to Murray State University in western Kentucky where she’ll compete in cross country, indoor and outdoor track.

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