Breanne Byrgrave practiced hurdles with a partner last season, so instead of perfecting her technique, she simply raced.
The Wakefield senior found some success in her approach, taking third in the 2015 state finals even after overcoming an ankle injury.
But it wasn’t until Bygrave’s partner went off to college that she realized her true potential.
She drills her lead and trail legs these days. She focuses on a running formula through 100-meter hurdle races, calling “muscle memorization” a tool for success.
Bygrave, who will run for the University of Pennsylvania next year, was the top girls’ hurdler in the state at one point, hitting 13.94 seconds at the Pepsi Florida Relays in March for a personal best.
Wakefield coach Ann Graham, however, knows this isn’t the best of the Cap-8 Conference hurdles leader just yet.
“Even with the time that she’s running, she still has a whole lot of development and improvement that she can learn,” Graham said of her senior captain.
One of the things I always tell her when I’m watching her compete is even though she knows how to hurdle, she hasn’t perfected it yet. This is just what I observe. She has speed and she’s strong, so with that I need her to perfect the technique.
Wakefield track coach Ann Graham
Byrgrave, who ran youth track with club Junior Striders, came to Graham in the ninth grade far more advanced than other freshmen. She said she followed in the footsteps of her older sister, who ran track at Millbrook.
Bygrave talked about how much she longed to be like her sister – even down to her event.
“I just did what she did pretty much,” Bygrave said. “I just followed her around.”
She added she would also thank her sister because, “my life would be so much different without track. That molded my whole life pretty much.”
Bygrave, whose soft voice is a polar opposite of her explosive talents on the track, has put an emphasis on leadership. It’s not hard for the other members of the track team to agree with her opinions.
She helps me a lot. (She taught me) to never give up. At times, you want to quit, but you just have to keep pushing.
Wakefield senior Erikah Lawson
While she has times and goals she hopes to reach during races her senior season, she values being a role model as well.
“You always want to be someone that they can look up to,” Byrgrave said. “It makes it easier, especially during the down times, to have somebody there to pick you back up.”
Bygrave has already turned her indoor and outdoor track seasons around this year. She was the 50-meter hurdles champion at the N.C. High School Athletic Association 4A indoor race in February, placing first with a 7.29 after falling in the race her junior year.
She remains the Cap-8 leader and one of the top hurdlers in the area, as her top-ranked 100 hurdles time on Milesplit.com was recently broken by Anna Cockrell from Charlotte’s Providence Day.
“One of things that Bre has to keep in mind is even though you compete well in once race, the next race is a whole new race, and you have to treat it as such,” Graham said. “You’re no longer the one that’s hunting – you’re being hunted. So, you’re going to always find someone who’s coming to outrace her She always has to stay a step above.”
Wakefield has one regular-season meet remaining before it takes on the Cap-8 championship on Saturday. The Wolverines girls’ team is a regular winner, and the top four in these races and events advance to regionals.
Byrgave does have some fuel from the indoor season, after the championship and coming up one spot short of All-American at nationals.
“That just makes me want to get it this time around,” she said. “I have to work even harder than before.”
Jessika Morgan: 919-829-4538, @JessikaMorgan