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Fieldcrest junior Tessa Holland has the athletic ability to excel in several track & field events according to coach Carol Bauer. This year, Holland focused on the triple jump, high jump and 400-meter dash and won three state medals and broke an area record. NewsTribune photo/Scott Anderson
MINONK — Of the 14 individual events in a high school track & field meet, there’s only one Fieldcrest junior Tessa Holland feels she couldn’t compete.
“I definitely could not do the two mile,” Holland said.
But any other event?
“I think I probably could run the mile (state) qualifying time, but I wouldn’t make it to finals or anything, but honestly, I have no desire to do the mile or two mile,” Holland said with a laugh.
“The throwing events — shot and disc — would probably be the hardest, but I think if I worked at it and had good coaching, I definitely could do it because I’m willing to put the work in.”
Fieldcrest coach Carol Bauer agrees Holland could qualify for the state meet in a slew of events, saying she could definitely do it in the 200- and 400-meter dash and all three jumps while possibly being able to achieve the feat in the 100, 800 and the shot put.
“She just has a wealth of talent,” Bauer said. “She holds several of our school records. … She could have qualified for the state meet in six or seven different events (this season), so the decision becomes which ones did she like the best and which ones did she have the chance to be most successful at.”
This season, Holland chose to focus on the triple jump, high jump, 400 and 1,600 relay, and the result was three state medals and an area record.
Holland placed second in the Class 1A triple jump in her first season doing the event, claimed fourth in the high jump for her second career medal in the event and placed seventh in the 400 to earn a medal in the event for the second year in a row.
Leading up to state, she won sectional titles in all three events and won events in many other meets, including the high jump at Hall’s Rollie Morris Invitational where she cleared 5 feet, 7 inches to break the area record of 5-6 set by St. Bede’s Eve Cullinan in 1998.
For all she accomplished this season, Holland is the 2014 NewsTribune Girls Track & Field Athlete of the Year.
It’s the second year in a row a Fieldcrest athlete claimed the award and it’s Holland’s second NT Player of the Year Award as she also took the honor in girls basketball as a sophomore.
“I think I’m just naturally athletic,” Holland said. “I was blessed with that. I’m very thankful for that. I think that definitely helps with my ability to try new events and be successful at them, but of course, I couldn’t do that without my coaches’ training.”
Holland was successful despite Fieldcrest not having the ideal facilities to train for her events.
The school does not have an available triple jump pit, the high jump equipment is a mat with a rope in place of a bar and the school’s track is cinder.
Therefore, Holland’s triple jump practice was simply jumping drills. The only times she performed the event all out were at meets, and Holland said she competed in the triple jump in five meets before state.
For the high jump, Holland practiced her approach but was never able to practice outside or in her spikes.
Holland ran on the football field, in the cemetery or around Minonk to train for the 400.
“That increases my amazement of her,” Bauer said about her training without ideal facilities. “It would have been easy for her to say, ‘Well, I can’t be successful because I can’t ever practice.’ I think she looked at it as, ‘I’m going to be successful in spite of that.’ It just proves if you are willing to work hard, you can be successful and it doesn’t have to hold you back.”
Holland does work hard.
She lifts year round — including three times per week in the offseason — trains with the cross country team in the summer and does workouts in season with male sprinters — workouts Bauer said were “killer workouts.”
“I am just very, very competitive,” said Holland, who comes from a competitive family in which her mother was a Division I swimmer at Illinois State University and her father played basketball at Illinois Central College. “I do not like seeing people improving around me and myself not improving. I push myself to always work hard. Improvements obviously come from working hard.”
She plans to continue working hard throughout the offseason and her senior year — possibly doing cross country along with volleyball in the fall — and taking on new events in her final prep campaign.
With an eye toward college in which she hopes to compete in the heptathlon, Holland wants to compete in the high jump, 200, 800 and a relay next year.
Kevin Chlum can be reached at 220-6939, or at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @NT_SportsEditor.
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