Erika Townley, Class of 2019 - White Bear Lake High School
What are all your personal records? What State Meet competitions have you been in, and what were your results?
My personal records include a 14.59 second 100 Hurdle time, a 42.88 second 300 Hurdle time, and a 56.54 400 Relay split time. I have competed in the State meet competitions in the years 2015, 2017, and 2018. In 2016 I qualified for the meet, but could not run due to a stress fracture injury. I was All-State in the 100H, 300H, and 4x400 in 2017 and 2018.
How did you first get involved with track? Do you do, or have you done, any other sports?
I have been a soccer player since I was four-years-old. I played up for my first eight years which allowed me to play at a higher level. Nowadays, I still play soccer and plan to continue playing it at Drake University next year. I played basketball from fourth grade through my sophomore year of high school and gave it up to put more of my attention on soccer and track. I first became involved with Track when I was in middle school. I tried nearly every event and just fell in love with the hurdles.
What is your favorite or most memorable competition you've ever been in?
My favorite meet I have ever taken part in was the State Meet last year (2018), where I got three all-time personal bests in the 100H, 300H, and my 4x400 split. True team meets are always fun too. I love how late they go, and when all the teams run back and forth during the 4x400!
The past number of years have been something of a golden age for girls hurdles in Minnesota, with recent graduates like Natalie Windels, Malea Biermaier, Karina Joiner, and other great athletes. What has it been like for you to have developed as a hurdler while surrounded by so many of Minnesota's best hurdlers ever?
Getting to run against incredible athletes such as Meleah Biermaier, Karina Joiner, and Natalie Windels was incredible. They definitely made me better by giving me superb competition, as well as being someone I could look up to. They have set some State records that I have already started training hard for. Overall, they were very fun to run against.
Tell me about one of your favorite track memories.
One of my fondest memories from Track was with my former hurdle coach. After meets where my teammates and I did good and broke our PB's, he would bring in beef jerky for all of us, and we would dance to this really weird song. It was honestly really weird, but so funny!
Who are some of your favorite athletes to compete against (either teammates or from other reams)?
My favorite teammates to run with are my hurdle family. Some of us have been together for a long time. My favorite girls to run against are Erin Beer and Ava Fitzgerald (Roseville) and Natalie Windels.
Who are some people that have been most helpful to you in your athletic career, and how have they helped you?
Ultimately, my parents have played the largest role. My moms persistence on making me do physical therapy when I'm hurt and my dad being my workout partner even when I don't feel like working out. Their constant support is definitely what got me through the rough days. Also, my best friend Claire Odmark (teammate and neighbor) has been my workout partner and teammate in every sport, so we have been able to train together with everything. All of the coaches I have had in all my sports have played a critical role in making me the athlete I am. Soccer coaches that taught me to love my sports, basketball coaches that taught me to tough, and track coaches that taught me to be consistent, all played a part in developing me as an athlete.
Who might we find cheering for you at competitions?
At track meets you will always see my parents and aunt straight up from the finish line... until the 300 hurdles come around, and then you will see and hear my dad on the curve screaming "ARMS!!"
What is a challenge you have had to face as an athlete? How did you overcome it?
The greatest challenge I have faced thus far has definitely been my broken foot that was misdiagnosed early on. I was playing on three stress reactions and a nonunion stress fracture which I went on to get surgery for. I am still healing from surgery, but am able to walk and do physical therapy now, so I am very thankful for that. I am still overcoming this injury by just being thankful for what I can do. I thank God I have been able to run for so long with no injuries, and that this is just a temporary setback.
What are your main goals for this track season?
My goals for this track season are to get new personal bests in the 100 hurdles, 300 hurdles, and 4x4. I would really like to get in the 41-second range in the 300 hurdles! My reach goals are to beat the state records for each of those events.
Do you have any post-graduation plans?
Post-graduation plans consist of a grad party with all of my family and friends and then going to Drake University next year to play soccer and major in Health Sciences.
Do you have any rituals, routines, or superstitions either on or off the track?
The meet rituals I have are eating something healthy for breakfast, drinking lots of water, and praying during warm-ups and when I get into the blocks.
When not doing anything track-related, what might we find you doing?
When not doing track, you will probably find me at the soccer fields training. I also love paddle boarding and having cooking competitions with my friends.
What advice would you give to younger athletes, or athletes just starting out in track?
If I could give advice to younger athletes just starting out in track, I would remind them to not worry about their times because that can really kill your joy for running. I would remind them to just stay active, by not just running, but by playing. Whether that means a pickup game of basketball at the park, or a fun game of capture the flag, just keep moving. Also, give your body time off, there's no sense running yourself into the ground. Lastly, enjoy the moments! You are not in high school forever, so embrace and cherish these moments.
Do you have any specific advice or tips for the hurdle events that you would like to share?
The best advice I've ever heard: when your legs can't move, your arms still can.
Tell me one bizarre fact about yourself.
One bizarre fact that few people know about me is that I absolutely LOVE the dentist!