Always a bridesmaid, never a bride.
But the third time could be the charm for Juneau-Douglas senior co-captain Emily Sharp, the Crimson Bears’ hurdles extraordinaire, who has one final shot to claim that elusive state title, a title that’s been just out of her reach so far.
After finishing second in both the 100- and 300-meter hurdles each of the last two seasons at the ASAA/First National Bank Alaska Track & Field Championships, Sharp hopes it’s her turn to be the metaphorical bride standing atop the podium.
“I’m as ready as I’m going to be,” she said. “I’m excited and I’m not necessarily setting a goal for myself. I just want to do the best I can. I’d definitely like to PR and if I do that, that would mean I’m doing pretty well.
“I would love to get in the lower 14s (seconds) if my legs will let me.”
Sharp set her PR, or personal record, during last year’s state meet. That PR also made her Alaska’s first prep female to break 15 seconds in the 100 hurdles after she posted a 14.92 in a prelim, earning her the state record.
For a day.
Twenty four hours later in the state finals, Sharp ran second to Dimond’s Keiahnna Engel, who bested her state best time by two-hundredths of a second.
“I knew I ran quick, but not how quick. When they announced it, my parents told me because I didn’t hear it. But I was pretty excited, at least for that day,” Sharp said of breaking state record. “I was hoping to beat the record again the next day but I got beaten by Keiahnna, so she deserves it.
“I definitely didn’t run as fast the second day. I had a terrible start coming out of the block.”
But she’s not bitter. Sharp doesn’t have the moniker of state record holder so instead, she likes to think of herself as something else: “I was the first girl in Alaska to break 15 seconds,” she said, “so I just decided that would be my title.”
Sharp tried the hurdles for the first time as a freshman at JDHS, and started to shine as a sophomore after picking up a few pointers at a camp in Sitka.
“I thought (hurdles) were kind of different, I guess,” she said of why she chose the event. “It looked fun so I decided to try it.”
And four years later, she has one more shot at it. Sharp heads into today’s prelims with the No. 3 seed (15.39), behind Engle (15.13) and Barlett’s Rosie Smith (15.14).
Smith and Engle have a decided advantage coming in: They get to compete against each other throughout the regular season, while Sharp continues to race against herself because no one in Southeast has been able to challenge her.
Usually, it’s her twin sister, Samantha, coming in as the runner-up. Samantha checks in as the twelfth seed for today’s 100 hurdles prelims (16.76), and the 300 hurdles eighth seed (50.15).
“They’re pretty lucky in the fact that they get to constantly run against each other, and get that practice. I’m down in Southeast so I don’t really get the chance to really push myself,” Emily Sharp said. “I remember last year before we went to state, it was kind of the same setup as this year: Keiahnna and Rosie were seeded first and second, and I was third.
“When I got to state, just having the energy of being around them, I really understood the race more,” she continued. “It pushed me to run a faster time, and I have typically run faster at state, which really excites me.”
And her coach, Janette Gagnon, is excited for her.
“It’s definitely a culminating event for her,” she said. “She’s really been working hard, and I know her drive and desire and determination is there. Every time she’s out on the track, she’s giving it her all, focusing on all of the little things she needs to improve on.”
We’ll find out this weekend whether the third time is the charm for Emily Sharp, the first girl in Alaska to break 15 seconds.
That’s a title no one can ever take from her, no matter how fast they run.