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All-County Girls Track: Harmony’s Vanessa Bolen keeps on going

Posted on Saturday, July 15, 2017 at 7:29 am

Vanessa Bolen qualified for the Class 3A state meet in four events.

By Rick Pedone
Sports Editor
These Player of the Year awards are becoming old hat to Vanessa Bolen, the Harmony High cross country and track standout who has been the county’s best female distance runner since her freshman year in 2015-16.
Bolen scored a near-perfect 38 points at the Orange Belt Conference meet and led her team to the OBC title for only the second time in the school’s history. She won district championships in three events and and qualified in four events at the Class 3A state meet.
Even with several other outstanding female track athletes to consider, it is hard to dispute the case for making Bolen the Osceola News-Gazette Female Track Athlete of the Year.
Previously, she was the cross country athlete of the year for 2015 and 2016, qualifying for the state meet in that sport twice.
There is nothing fancy or particularly high-tech about Bolen’s training methods. Taking a page from WWII hero Louis Zamparini, a pre-war Olympian, Bolen simply works as hard as she can to prepare for each season. “A moment of pain is worth a lifetime of glory,” is Bolen’s motto, taken from Zamparini’s story that was displayed in the movie, “Unbroken.”
Bolen qualified for the state meet in the 800, 1,600 and 3,200 individual runs, and also in the 4×800 relay.
She won gold medals for the individual events at the OBC meet in April, when the Lady Longhorns edged Osceola by three points to win the championship.
“It was really cool,” she said. “I was so happy when we found out that we won.”
Lady Longhorns Coach Adam Kerns said that Bolen was the hub of a very good track team.
“She is definitely our workhorse,” he said. “She lowered her school record times in the 800 (2:25) and 3,200 (11:25) at the state meet.”
She clocked 5:24 in the 1,600 at state, good for 11th place.
Bolen has a demanding schedule at the track meets as she warms up and cools down for four different events.
“After my 4 x 800 (the first event at most track meets) my parents usually drive me somewhere air conditioned, whether it be the movie theater or a book store,” she said. “I relax until its time to warm up, and between the other races, I just make sure to stay hydrated. If I have enough time, I eat a granola bar.”
So far, it seems to be a winning method.
While cross country might be more demanding for a single race, she said track meets are a different animal because of the multiple events she must prepare for.
“Track might be more intense,” she said.
She was disappointed not to place at the state meet. She finished ninth in the 3,200, one spot away from reaching the medal platform.
One reason for that is that Florida is one of the most competitive states for high school track. Often, winners at the state meets would qualify for the Olympic trials, said Coach Kerns.
“The competition is a whole different level,” he said.
Bolen said that it is difficult to compete against the state’s top runners, but she enjoys the challenge.
“I remember looking ahead and seeing the girls 200 meters ahead. They ended up finishing at times faster than all the guys on my team,” Bolen said.
Bolen’s success was not limited to track and cross country this school year. She also played forward for the school’s soccer team, which won the district championship and advanced to the regional semifinals.
“I was proud of my teams for cross country, soccer and track,” she said.
What is scary, if you have to face her next season, is the way she describes her plan to prepare for her junior year.
“I plan on medaling in both cross country and track. I’m going to start taking my training more seriously and work on my speed,” she said.
In other words, Bolen is going to “take it up a notch” next season.
If that’s possible.
Also considered for the Female Track Athlete of the Year was Poinciana hurdler Shanylinx Davilla, who placed fourth at 300 meters at the Class 3A state meet, and St. Cloud thrower Essence Tornabene, who placed in both the shot put and discus at the Class 4A state meet.