Graytown Elementary School student Hope Sievert, 9, has qualified in the 1,500 for the USATF Junior Olympic Championships July 29 in Wichita. Kan. / Submitted

Graytown Elementary School student Hope Sievert, 9, once won three events at her school's field day despite an injured heel that would ultimately require time in a cast and walking boot to heal.

Sievert also excels at full strength, as her time of 6 minutes, 4.68 seconds in the 1,500 at the World United States Association of Track and Field Showcase at Eastern Michigan was eighth in the country among girls under 9. Sievert competed in the 9-10 age group at 7 and finished 11th.

I got to run with older girls, Sievert said.

Sievert, who initially tried to keep training, recovered from her heel injury after missing about a year. She then tweaked her back playing soccer this spring, again took a break and returned to her workouts for a month before qualifying in the 1,500 for the USATF Junior Olympic Championships July 29 at Wichita State University in Kansas.

I'm looking forward to working my best and going to Kansas for nationals, said Sievert, who feels healthy and ready to go.

Sievert was third in the 1,500 at 6:05 among runners from Ohio, Michigan, West Virginia and Kentucky at the USATF Junior Olympic Regional meet in Geneva this year.

Sievert's father Jeff qualified to state for Oak Harbor High School in the 4X800 relay. Sievert's older brothers Tyler, 14, and Trevor, 13, will run track and cross country for Oak Harbor High School and Oak Harbor Middle School, respectively.

Sievert tagged along with Tyler to meets for the Toledo Titans track team and saw other 7-year-olds competing.

Hope noticed there were other girls there and asked if she could run, Jeff said. Within two weeks we saw how strong she was. We didn't know she could even compete at that age, but when she saw other girls she wanted to compete.

She started running and just exploded. We realized that the longer the race, the better she did. We decided she was a distance runner.

Sievert, who also competes in the 800, already runs two to three miles five days a week to train. She practices with the Titans on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, and runs at home on Mondays and Fridays.

Sievert, who typically takes weekends off, does interval and speed work or simply runs her two to three miles each day. Titans coach Solomon Branch helped formulate the routine.

Sievert is usually a bit nervous the first few meets of a season before she relaxes and makes it about having fun.

I like it because I get to be with my friends and run, she said. I just like the feeling of it.

Sievert, who has also participated in a few 5K races, won the one-mile Apple Run for kids the last two years and anticipates running cross country in the future, focusing on the relationships that track affords rather than the competition at this point.

She seems to like when she trains with her teammates, Jeff said. She doesn't like training on her own so much, but she loves training with them. She'll finish her workout so she can do sprint work with her friends. Sometimes she does two workouts.

After all, it's hard to stop Sievert from running.

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