Photo by Al Lacey
EDITORS NOTE: Thanks to Emily's dad for all the great background information. Notice Emily was wearing an Oregon singlet during the Track Town Youth League Championship.
The spark that lit the fire took place in 2013 when Emily Stefan competed in the Little Olympics representing L. Mendel Rivers Elementary in Altus, Oklahoma while in 5th grade. With her first race starting without her knowledge she took off with no shoes or socks speeding by the competition like Dash Parr from the Incredibles. From there the seed was planted and determination, motivation, and the will to win took over.
During Emily’s 6th grade year she started school at Altus Intermediate School where she would race the boys for their cookies they purchased every Thursday from the school bake sale. Needless to say, Emily won a lot of cookies. She ended up moving from Oklahoma to Albany, Oregon where she started attending Memorial Middle School. Memorial allowed 6th graders to compete in Track in Field, which was all she could think about. Running the 100-meter dash, 200-meter dash, 400-meter and the 4x100 it was quickly realized she was a force to be reckoned with throughout the other middle schools in the community. Emily’s 8th grade year provided a launching platform into high school by going undefeated in every event she entered to include the relays were she was the anchor leg.
With one of the most elite collegiate Track and Field programs less than 50 miles away, Emily set her goal of meeting the University of Oregon standards in hopes of receiving a full scholarship. Her freshman year of track and field at West Albany High School started off a little rocky. She started off with winter track, which was more of a strength-training program in preparation for the upcoming spring track and field season. Setting a goal in the 100m of 12.60-12.80 seconds and in the 200m of 26.60-26.80 seconds. Emily made the Varsity Team but her season started off extremely slow with a time of 13.59 seconds in the 100m and 28.51 seconds in the 200m. It wasn’t until the 54th Centennial Invitation where 31 different schools from around the Pacific Northwest participated. Running against faster sprinters, Emily was able to push through her mental barrier of running faster and keeping up with the competition. She was able to run a 13.08 second 100m and a 27.47 second 200m both of which were personal records.
After the 54th Centennial Invitational Emily kept winning races or setting personal records all the way up to the 6A Greater Valley District track meet. Preparation and determination mentally focused her on running best races yet. Knowing the best of the best of 6A Greater Valley schools were going to be competing, Emily stayed focused on running her race despite knowing there were girls running a lot faster. Running a 13.03 100m in the prelims set the stage for running a sub 13 second race in the finals. Still needing the run the 200m Emily ran a 26.79 second not only setting another person record but also achieving her personal goal in the 200m. With the 100m finals up next, she ran an unexpected 12.78-second 100m. While still making the podium in both the 100m and 200m she just missed qualifying for the State meet but she was thrilled with her performance knowing next she’ll make it to the state meet. Additionally, Emily was named Most Outstanding Track Athlete, named to the 2nd team in the 200m, Honorable Mention in the 100m, and broke the freshman records in both 100m and 200m, which had been standing for the past 10 years.
The last two summers have also been filled with Valley Velocity (13-14 age) track club in Albany, Oregon. Participating in the Portland Track Festival the last three years, Oregon Junior Olympics, and Regional 13 Junior Olympics Championships in both Seattle and Spokane Washington. This year Emily is running an age group up (15-16 age group) as a 14 year old while still keeping up with the older girls. Emily is currently ranked 8th in the 100m and 13th for the 200m for club track. Additionally, she competed in the Track Town Youth League in Eugene, where she qualified for the Track Town Youth League Championship in both the 100m and 400m at the Historic Hayward Field. Taking 1st in the 100m and in the 400m she was 2nd while representing her favorite college track and field team (she wore a University of Oregon singlet) in honor of Hayward Field, which will be renovated starting summer this year.
Way to Go Emily!