Harper hurdles into history

vince bagby By Vince Bagby, Sports Director, vbagby@keci.com
POSTED: 6:53 PM May 10 2013   UPDATED: 4:32 PM May 13 2013
MISSOULA, Mont. -

Missoula Sentinel senior Liz Harper has won five state titles in Track and Field.  Most of those have come in the hurdle events, but that doesn't mean she had the most graceful entrance into the sport.

"When I was a freshman and did the threes (300 meter hurdles) for the first time I face planted on the very last hurdle and I slid across the finish line.  I thought at that point that I was done."

"A lot of kids won't even attempt it because it's an obstacle.  And when you're faced with an obstacle you have to figure out a way to get over it.  But sometimes it takes falling and getting back up to really get yourself excited about it, kind of like I can do this and I'm not going to let these hurdles defeat me.'

Harper certainly hasn't seen much defeat in her high school career.  Besides her five state track titles she's also got two state titles on the hardwoods.  However after winning another state basketball crown this winter, Harper ended the season with tendinitis issues in her knees, causing her to miss the first half of the spring track season.

"I didn't handle it very well at all.  I was depressed; it was a really sad time."

"It was really frustrating with her and it was hard to see the look in her face when she'd watch the hurdles and watch other people compete."

Despite the injury and only being back to form for the past few weeks, Harper has already set the top times in Class "AA" for the 100 hurdles and the 300 hurdles.  But she's got more than just state titles on her mind to end this spring.

"My goal this year is to hopefully break the state record for the threes and hopefully the ones."

"I want her to beat those records, that's something that I want so badly for her because I think she deserves it.  She's been one of the top runners in the state since she started as a freshman.  She's done nothing but improve."

 No matter what happens the rest of this spring for Harper, she's already got next year figured out.  She'll be attending Washington State on a full-ride Track and Field scholarship.

"As a freshman I did not think that I'd end up as a PAC-12 athlete.  It's a blessing you know.  And I couldn't have done it or been where I am today without my family, without my friends and most definitely without my coaches either."

Coach Larson expects some big things out of Harper over at Washington State.  The sky is the limit.

"Might not have the best form in the world.  Might not have the best overall speed or starts but it's the way that she attacks it and the way that she approaches everything that she does as an athlete that makes her great.  You make all that other stuff better and I think she's unstoppable."