May 15, 2019 11:25 PM
(ABC 6 News) - Have you ever met someone who radiates an abundance of happiness and excitement? Well, almost anyone who has met Triton senior track and field star, Nell Graham, can agree she is one of those people.
She's also one of a kind on and off the track.
Whether she's finishing first in the 400-meter dash at an exclusive meet where she's competing against some of the best in the state
or simply bouncing around at track meets saying hello's, giving hugs and catching up with other athletes, her energy and bubbliness are hard to match.
"She's just got a really positive attitude and she just loves track," Triton Head Track and Field Coach Kim Swanson said. "Those two things are just really infectious. The other athletes around her feed off that energy and she kind of pulls them along and is always encouraging her teammates to push themselves and get better as well."
On April 26, 2019, Nell's hard work, drive and determination paid off when she qualified, and competed, at the Hamline Elite Meet. She was also seeded first at this event in the 400-meter dash.
"Coming into the season, that was one of my bigger goals," Nell Graham said about her accomplishment. "I really wanted to qualify for the elite meet so hearing that I was seeded first at the elite meet was really awesome."
This was a huge opportunity for Nell and she wasn't going to take it lightly.
"The Hamline Elite Meet is an opportunity for the best athletes in the state of Minnesota to go head to head in both class A and AA," Swanson explained. "So big schools and small school. So, she was going up against kids from across the state that run great 400 times as well."
Nell described what was going through her mind as she was racing in the Hamline 400-meter dash.
"On the first 200 I didn't go out as hard as I knew I could have so I was kind of behind," Nell said. "Then when I hit the second 200 mark, I was like I have no reason to not give it my all, because it's my only race of the day so I just went. On the home stretch I didn't see anyone in front of me so I figured they were right behind me. I turned around when I finished and there was no one else there and I was like 'woah this is insane!'"
Nell took home first place with a time of 57.46. She is also currently ranked first in the state of Minnesota in the women's 400-meter-dash. Prior to this year, Nell spent a lot of time running long distance or longer events. Within in one year, she has taken her craft and honed it.
"In the last year she started running the 400 a little more and that's really become her event," Swanson said. "I think it's about strength as she's continuing to work in the offseason to grow, and maturity and just kind of finding her niche. I think she is a really versatile athlete. She can run anything from 200 to 800, she's a jumper as well and she's just really come along."
Nell usually competes in the 400-, the 200- and the high jump. However, during this year's Hiawatha Valley League's Conference Championships, she showed her versatility once again.
She hasn't competed in the long jump in a couple of years, but that day she did.
After scratching her first two jumps, she had one more. On her third, she tied the school record at 16:05 feet. In the end, she took home third overall in an event she hasn't competed in in years.
She continues to break school records, such as the girls 200-meter dash, which she broke just a few weeks ago, and ahead of every meet, she said she sets a new goal. Her ultimate goal for this season, though? It's to qualify for sections, section finals and then hopefully become a state champion, which is something she only recently started to embrace.
"Why not me? Why shouldn't I be able to win state? What's holding me back? It's a mental thing," Nell said."I just thought everyone else was faster, stronger but now I know that I'm just as fast and just as strong as everyone else."
Updated: May 15, 2019 11:25 PM
Created: May 15, 2019 11:19 PM
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