Editor's note: This is an installment in a series highlighting the accomplishments of those Moffat County High School athletes named All-Conference and All-Conference honorable mention during the 2000-2001 athletic seasons.
Sheila McNicol injured herself before last fall's state cross country tournament. Many believed the injury to be a stress fracture. Not wanting to drop out of the race fearing that it might affect Moffat County High School's chances of taking state, McNicol iced her leg for 45 minutes and warmed up for 10 minutes before running to 21st place finish.
"I just decided that I'd run and if it hurt, then, oh well," she said. "I was at state and I wanted to help my team win."
During the race, McNicol's injury didn't hurt as badly as she thought it would, and she started to feel better after the race.
The injury healed just as mysteriously as it occurred, and a week later, McNicol had no pain in her leg.
The 21st-place finish at state placed McNicol one spot away from earning All-State honorable mention, but missing state honors did not faze the sophomore runner, since her primary goal was to help her team win state.
She did improve, hurt leg and all, over her freshman year when she placed 12 runners back, 33rd place, at the title run.
"Personally, I wanted to finish in the top 50 my freshman year, and my sophomore year I just wanted to help my team," McNicol said.
She came away from last fall's regionals with a seventh-place finish and All-Conference honors.
Before pushing herself past the point of pain to ensure the success of the cross country team's run at the state title, the sophomore McNicol was a middle school girl just entering the realm of running. In seventh grade, what seems to be the determining year in most young athletes' lives when they choose what sport to take part in, McNicol already knew what she wanted to do run.
"It's kind of a family thing. My Dad was a cross country runner, and both my parents still compete in races, so it was just inevitable that's what I'd do," she said.
Running appealed to McNicol because of the independence it offered her, the ability to control her own destiny in a competition. The competition offered by cross country has especially intrigued her, because of the varied terrain and longer distances than track, though she does compete in both sports.
"It takes a lot of willpower and determination when you compete in something like running, because it's only you out there, so if you do well, then you know it was you who did it, and, the same if you do poorly," McNicol said.
McNicol will compete in both track and cross country for her remaining two years of high school, and hopes that she is able to achieve enough in both sports that she will be granted a scholarship for college.
She said that even if she doesn't run in college, the sport will be a life long occupation for her.