AUSTIN, Texas – Bonnie Richardson ran. She threw. She jumped. And when it was time to hand out the team trophies, Richardson accepted the 1A team championship for Rochelle High School – by herself.
Bonnie Richardson of Rochelle High School scored 42 team points to win the Texas 1A track title.
Richardson was the only Rochelle athlete to qualify for the state meet and stunningly won the team title. University Interscholastic League officials said it was the first time they can remember a single athlete winning a girls’ team title.
It’s happened before on the boys’ side, but not since former Baylor Bear and Pittsburgh Steeler Frank Pollard did it for Meridian High School in the 1970s, said UIL Athletics Director Charles Breithaupt.
“This totally blows me away,” the freckle-faced Richardson said while holding the trophy with a gold medal draped on her neck. “This is amazing. I had no idea it was even possible.”
Richardson’s title march began with field events on Friday when she won the high jump (5 feet, 5 inches), placed second in the long jump (18-7) and was third in the discus (121-0).
On Saturday, she won the 200 meters in 25.03 seconds and nearly pulled off a huge upset in the 100 before finishing second (12.19) to defending champion Kendra Coleman of Santa Anna. Richardson, a junior, earned a total of 42 team points to edge team runner-up Chilton (36).
It was a good thing the 1A events were split over two days because Richardson said the heat – temperatures were in the high 90s both days – might have knocked her down. She laughed off a suggestion that she could have won more if UIL rules didn’t limit individual participation to five events.
“I don’t think I could handle any more,” she said. “It was hot and I was tired.”
Many outstanding girls athletes have dominated state meets, but few cross over from the sprints to the field events with Richardson’s success, Breithaupt said.
“The way she did it is really impressive,” Breithaupt said. “A lady like that could be a heptathlete.”
Rochelle is about 85 miles east of San Angelo, and Richardson’s high school doesn’t even have a real track. The football field has a ring of caliche and grass around it.
So how does she train?
“Watch for potholes,” she joked. “We have a track about 10 miles down the road and train there usually.”
Richardson’s coach, Jym Dennis, suspected she could do something special in the team category, but didn’t tell her on the trip to Austin because he didn’t want to make her nervous.
“I was hoping she’d get a few gold medals to put her over the top and she did,” Dennis said. “She’s an amazing athlete. I think she could win a lot of events.”
As a sophomore, she competed in the high jump, long jump and discus. She won the long jump but didn’t medal in the others. On Saturday, she was surprised by her second-place finish in the 100.
“Kendra and I have been battling all year. I was amazed I stayed with her. I didn’t think I was that fast,” she said.
Richardson also plays tennis and led her basketball team to the state semifinals last season.
“I’d play football if my parents would let me,” she said. “Not quarterback. Defense.”