With Jeff Mitchem nearing completion of his 31st year at Spokane, there’s no better authority to assess where Lily Hunsucker stands in the Lady Owls’ track history.
He doesn’t think there’s any doubt she’s at the top in what she has done.
“She’s the best we’ve ever had long-distance,” Mitchem said. “I don’t know if it will happen again. Her times are amazing. She holds our cross country records and all our distance records.”
In much the same way 2021 grad Sam Shuman established himself as the Owls’ premier long-distance runner, Hunsucker will leave behind a lasting legacy that is evident on the Lady Owls’ records board.
She owns the school record in the 800, 1,600 and 3,200.
Hunsucker earned berths to State in four events in Class 2 Sectional 3 action over the weekend. She was first in the 800 (2:26) and 1,600 (5:29), second in the 3,200 (13:07) and ran the anchor leg on the the Lady Owls’ third-place 4 x 400 relay (4:24).
She’s been happy with her recent results in the 800 and 1,600, while often running with no one near her.
“I’ve gotten better at that,” she said. “I can pretty much go at a pretty decent pace without having someone there to race against. That’s been a skill I’ve had to learn from running all winter and summer by myself. On longer races, looking at my splits (on her watch) have become helpful.”
Hunsucker figures if she concentrates on herself and her own times this weekend at State, her quest for a gold medal could take care of itself.
“I don’t want to jinx anything,” Hunsucker said. “I think I can definitely PR. I’m going to try my best and hopefully go out with a bang.
“I’m going to try to make sure I stay fueled and healthy,” she added. “The last two years, I’ve struggled with that, especially in cross country.”
Looking beyond high school and toward her college career at Southwest Baptist, Hunsucker is intrigued at the possibility of competing in the steeplechase.
She ran the steeplechase for the first time this year and took an immediate liking to it.
Likewise, Shuman is enjoying success in the steeplechase at Tennessee-Martin.
“I got lots of tips from Sam. He’s been a great resource to have,” Hunsucker said. “I’d been begging coach Mitchem to let me run it for two years. I was like, ‘Coach, c’mon it’s my senior year and we’re at SBU, where I’m going to college.’ My mom told me coach was trying to get (my parents) to figure out a way to get me to chicken out of it. It didn’t work.”
Hunsucker took naturally to the steeplechase and enjoyed its unique intricacies. She will definitely inquire about running it in college.
“It was warm that day, so the water felt nice,” she said. “I got pretty good at jumping the steeples, not perfectly, but I was pretty good at it. Coming around the (final) stretch, people were going wild, especially in a close race. There was so much adrenaline.”
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