This story has been reported quite a bit the last couple days – and for good reason. It demonstrates the power of one.
Bonnie Richardson, from Rochelle, Texas (population 600), has accomplished what no other Texas high school track and field athlete has ever achieved: back-to-back team state championships – by herself.
The story of how tiny Rochelle High School — enrollment: 59 — won the Texas Class A girls team track championship last weekend sounds too good to be true.
For one thing, it was the Rochelle Hornets’ second straight title. For another, the only member of the team both years was Bonnie Richardson.
She successfully defended the school’s state title by outscoring 56 other schools.Her coach was interviewed for an AP article:
“I coached eight years, was blessed to have her for half of those and I doubt I’ll ever see anyone like her again,” said Jym Dennis, who also teaches history at Rochelle.
“But I’ve got to be honest,” he added a moment later. “You don’t start the year with one girl on the team and think, ‘Sure, we can defend our title.'”
Richardson is a tall, freckle-faced 19-year-old who is also the Class A, Division II high school basketball player of the year, valedictorian, National Honor Society member, and the McCulloch County Chamber of Commerce’s “Citizen of the Year.”
At this year’s championship, Richardson captured first in the long jump (17-04.50), second in the discus (126-09) and first in the high jump (5-8) on Friday for a total of 28 points. Returning to Myers Stadium on the campus of the University of Texas on Saturday, Richardson placed third in the 200 (25.78) and fourth in the 100 (12.51) .
Richardson personally won the team championship, compiling 38 points in her five events.
In winning an outright team track title by herself, Richardson joins James Segrest who won the 2A title for Bangs in 1954 and Frank Pollard who won the Class B title for Meridian in 1976 as the only Texans to win a team title by themselves.
That Richardson won the team title was a testament to her physical talent and internal drive. Her mother, Madelynn, who teaches science at Rochelle, said Bonnie has the most self-discipline she has ever seen.
The youngest of three girls, Bonnie grew up like her sisters, a tomboy in Texas Hill Country, riding horses, climbing rocks and building forts. From the family ranch, it’s 2 1/2 hours to the big city — San Angelo or Abilene — and a 45-minute drive just to see a movie.
Since Rochelle High School has no track, Richardson practices at nearby Brady High School. There she gets to experience the “big” city where there are gas stations and a Wal-Mart.
When Richardson ramped up her performance this season, the college recruiters followed. The call Bonnie wanted most finally came from coach Pat Henry at Texas A&M, where her father, sister and several other family members went to school. She’ll be heading to A&M on full scholarship in the fall planning to major in nutrition.
After two state titles, Richardson does have one regret.
“I wish I hadn’t stuck with the same five events, that I had branched out more,” she said. “I would’ve [liked to] have vaulted, but we don’t have the money or interest in Rochelle to have a pit. I’ve never done hurdles, and I want to.”
What? No relays?
(with info from ESPN, Rivals, & Rise)