Breanna Phillips is such a great competitor, she's only now getting over the disappointment of her finishes at the state girls track and field meet. Everyone else wonders how she did nearly as well as she did.
After finishing fourth in the 100 hurdles, first in the 400 meters, fifth in the high jump and being part of a winning 1,600 relay team the week before at the Marion Regional, Phillips sprained her ankle during practice two days before the state meet. She placed fifth in the 400 and fifth in the 100 hurdles while the relay finished third at state. Anyone else would have considered it a great season.
Oh, yeah, and the Northrop senior tore her hamstring during a March indoor meet and never got back to full strength the entire season.
"She is an ultra-competitor," Bruins coach Terry Milton said. "Sometimes I think she hates to lose more than she likes to win. If she's in a meet or our practices, she wants to finish first. There have been times over her career when I've had to tell her to back off because we're trying to help everyone else get better, too."
Her attitude and her ability are why Phillips has been named The News-Sentinel's Girls Track Athlete of the Year in a vote by area coaches.
"I can honestly say that she is in an elite category when it comes to the intangibles like work ethic, heart, desire and determination," said Quinton Dixie, Phillips' summer coach with the Indiana Blast. "When that is paired with her physical ability, it separates her from girls that are as talented but not as committed."
Here's the perfect example of Phillips' determination. She's leaving Aug. 23 to move in at the University of Pittsburgh where she plans on competing in the 400 hurdles. IHSAA track and field does not have an event for the 400 hurdles, and Phillips ran the event nine times last year before finishing eighth at nationals to earn all-American honors. Those 10 times are the only times during her high school career she has run the event. She didn't even run the 300 hurdles for Northrop because the Bruins needed her talents in other events.
"I wanted to go 300 hurdles, but the hamstring problem also wouldn't let me," Phillips said. "There was no normal after that."
But she did specialize in the 100 hurdles and the 400 during her Northrop career, so the transition shouldn't take much.
As a junior, Milton tried her in four individual events during the Summit Athletic Conference meet — 100 hurdles, high jump, 400 and 100 — and she won all four events. Because of timing the events would be too difficult to compete in during the sectional, so Phillips dropped the 100 and added the 1,600 relay. This season she never got the chance again.
"I think her versatility is her No. 1 attribute," Milton said. "If they really wanted to at Pittsburgh, they could turn her into a heptathlete. The thing about her is she attacks every event with the same effort and passion. Whatever she's doing at that moment is her favorite event."
Her real favorite event is the 400 hurdles, and Phillips' goal as a freshman is to place in the Atlantic Athletic Conference meet next spring. That's a pretty high aim for a freshman.
"It's just because there's something to do during the race," she said. "It's not a full-out sprint, and it's more of a challenge."
Because of the hamstring injury, Phillips wore a sleeve on her right leg, but she never got to full strength. Even now, she estimates she's at 85 percent, but she knows she's getting better every day. She can't wait to get to Pittsburgh to compete and train and run again.
"I know I'm getting better and it's going to be OK," she said. "I an very anxious to get going again."
But Phillips is only super-concentrated during the events. Afterward, she's something of a jokester with her teammates, a light-hearted friend looking to have a good time with everyone. She also loves volleyball. The only thing she really hates is losing. Boy, does she hate losing.
"Sometimes that works against her because she can internalize defeat more than she should," Dixie said. "In athletics one must have a short memory, but she has a tendency to hold on to the defeats. At the same time, that is what makes her want to get out there and work hard so she does not have to experience that again. I can't wait to see what lies around the corner for her in both track and life. She's such a good kid it is easy to root for her."
For more on local sports, follow Blake Sebring on Twitter at @blakesebring and on Facebook at Blake Sebring.
2017 ALL-AREA GIRLS TRACK & FIELD TEAM
Breanna Phillips, Northrop (Athlete of the Year)
Jo'deci Irby, Northrop
Dylan Kirkwood, Northrop
Kyara Muhammad, Northrop
Alicia Tiney-Williams, Northrop
Maggie Falater, Carroll
Abigail Green, Carroll
Megan Hathaway, Carroll
Leah Metzger, Carroll
Lauren Beckmann, DeKalb
Lexi Moriarity, East Noble
Julie Dvorak, Homestead
Payton Gorman, Snider
Addie Wanner, South Adams
Aneise Phillips, Wayne