St. Marys native’s specialty is the hurdles
By Pat Payton
Stratford St. Michael Catholic Secondary School has produced many fine athletes in several different sports over the years.
Brooke Overholt, however, is in a class by herself. The Grade 12 student is the first Warrior to obtain a NCAA Division 1 track and field scholarship south of the border. The 17-year-old St. Marys native will begin studies at Cornell University, an Ivy League school, in Ithaca, N.Y. this fall.
“It’s an amazing opportunity; I couldn’t ask for anything better,” Overholt said in a recent interview with the Independent. “Back in Grade 9, I never thought one day I’d be going to the States for university.”
She hopes her scholarship to will encourage other St. Mikes athletes to pursue their own goals and dreams. “I hope other people will follow and be encouraged to do what they love,” she said.
Initially, Overholt e-mailed the Cornell coach, telling him she was interested in the school. “Things just took off from there,” she recalled. “I went for a visit (last fall) and I really liked the feel of the school.
“It’s not a huge town or city. It’s nice because I’m from St. Marys which isn’t very big. It’s a very beautiful campus, very old, and it has lots of history (dating back to 1865).”
Overholt will run primarily the hurdles at Cornell. It’s definitely the track and field event that has become her specialty. She will do the 60-metre hurdles and the 400-metre dash during the indoor season, and the 100-metre and 400-metre hurdles outdoors.
Goal to reach OFSAA again
Overholt seriously got involved in track and field in Grade 9. “I enjoyed it in elementary school, and I wanted to continue it in high school,” she said. “I wanted to try new events, and that’s when I got involved in hurdles. It just took off from there.”
In Grade 9, her two track events were the hurdles and the 400-metre dash. She achieved immediate success in hurdles, earning bronze at OFSAA in the 300-metre event. “It was kind of an eye-opener that I was capable of doing more,” she said.
That’s when Overholt joined the London Legion Track and Field Club and started competing in club track. “Just with more practising, three times a week,” helped her progress and improve even more on the track.
In Grade 10, Overholt again won bronze at OFSAA in the 300-metre hurdles. In Grade 11 as a first-year Senior girl, she captured silver at the All-Ontario championships in the 400-metre hurdles. She posted a personal best time of one minute, 2.66 seconds.
In her final track season at St. Mikes, Overholt’s goal is to return to OFSAA for a fourth straight year. Her two events this spring will be the 100 and 400-metre hurdles.
Warriors’ coach Mark Dewan has coached Overholt ever since she arrived at St. Mikes.
“We didn’t know how good she was until literally she got to OFSAA in Grade 9,” he said. “She’s improved every single year, third in Grade 10 and second last year. She’s set school records right from the start, every single year.
“She works hard and she’s smart. She thinks about her technique and really concentrates on the different components. She has amazing fast-twitch muscles. She is so fast and gets out there really quickly. It’s that technique stuff. She’s thought about it and enacts it, and she keeps it nice and crisp and clean.”
–Overholt will major in Nutritional Science and minor in Exercise Science at Cornell.
–Brooke’s parents are Terry and Jody Overholt, of St. Marys.