By Mike Zummo
Corinne Faulkner wasn’t expecting to travel eight hours away from her Montgomery home to attend college, but she fell in love with Lake Erie College’s campus as soon as she arrived there.
That’s where she will continue her athletic career and education as Faulkner recently signed her National Letter of Intent to run on the school’s Division II track and cross-country teams.
“The coach is super nice,” Faulkner said. “He was amazing. They do really specific individual drills with their team. That’s why that athletic program interested me.”
Faulkner found her place on the track when she was introduced to middle distance running during the spring of her sophomore year. Before that, the furthest she had run was the 400-meter dash and one day, just decided to run the 800 meters at a random home meet and wound up doing well with it.
“I ran it for sections for that year, and broke 2:30, which was the fastest we had this year, and I was like, ‘oh, I could be good at this.’”
Now, she runs anywhere from the 400 meters to about the mile run, but the 800 is her best.
“They all come in thinking they’re fast sprinters,” said Ron Hebbard, who coached Faulkner on the Valley Central girls’ track and field team until his retirement in June. “It takes them time to figure it out. With a little push, we determine where they’re going to be good. I knew it, but you have to get them there.”
Faulkner was primed for one of her best seasons coming off 2019-20 indoor track season and the spiring 2020 team had a strong core of middle-distance runners. However, the season was canceled after a few days of practice due to the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Hebbard said he had wished Faulkner had started running sooner and wished even more that she had run cross-country as well. She had played soccer for the Vikings as recently as last fall. However, her plans would have changed this fall, if not for the pandemic as she would have moved on from the soccer team and joined the cross-country team.
Hebbard said running cross-country can be a huge benefit to runners.
“It gives you the base and endurance strength to do the track season,” he said. “That’s for anybody; it doesn’t matter the distance. It’s easier for middle distance to buy into it. Then, if you go to college, you train with them because that’s what sets you up for the rest of the year.”
It’s unclear what 2021 has in store, but indoor track may be difficult due to a lack of venues, but there is an expected March/April season for fall sports, which would include cross-country, considered a low-risk sport, and possibly a shortened track season in the spring.
“I’m looking forward to running with my teammates again,” Faulkner said. “Track is very close-knit. We’re more of a family than most sports. While it’s individual, we really push each other to do our best.”
Along the way, she’s also looking at lowering her times in the 800 and run the mile as well.
When she arrives at Lake Erie in the fall, she plans to major in nursing. Although she was squeamish at first, she took a child development/parenting class when she was a freshman and that drew her attention to neo-natal nursing. In addition to her Division II athletic scholarship, she is also receiving a Presidential scholarship for academics, the highest academic award the school offers.
“That was really exciting,” Faulkner said. “I don’t have to worry about that much money going in.”
After she completes her unusual senior year at Valley Central, she’s looking forward to expanding her horizons at Lake Erie.
“I’m hoping I can set some records and meet some new people,” Faulkner said. “I’ve already met some of the girls there. They’re so incredible; so nice. I’m looking forward to expanding my athletic career and seeing how far I can go and push myself.”