West Xtra: WPIAL meet will be an endurance test for Freedom girl

HIGH SCHOOL TRACK & FIELD

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DeeDee Adams isn't worried about fatigue.

A senior distance runner from Freedom Area High School, Adams is just going to clear her mind and run today ... a lot.

Adams plans to pull off quite the feat this afternoon by competing in four events during the WPIAL Class AA individual track and field championships at Baldwin High School. Adams will be penciled in to compete in the 800-meter, 1,600-meter and 3,200-meter runs as well as participate as a member of Freedom's 1,600-meter relay team.

Running in the 1,600-meter relay would be a first for her this season.

"I just hope to pull it off," said Adams, who lives in New Sewickley Township. "Right now, I am just thinking about getting on the starting line and hope the 'runner's high' keeps me going.

"I am not going to think about the pain. I'll worry about how I feel after I'm done running."

Freedom track and field coach Ed Shephard doesn't have much concern, either, and he believes his star runner should be able to handle the workload.

"[Competing in all the distance events] is something I've seen before, but you only see it once in a while," Shephard said. "The thing about the WPIAL championships, with having both Double-A and Triple-A boys and girls competing all at once, you have a lot more time spaced out between the events. That should give her enough time to rest between races."

One of the WPIAL's top runners this spring, Adams set school records in all three of her primary events. She ran a 2:19 in the 800, 5:05 in the 1,600 and 11:08 in the 3,200.

"I am ecstatic with my times," Adams said. "I am still hoping to break five minutes in the [1,600] and 11 minutes in the [3,200]."

Adams, who is committed to run next year at Pitt, has continued to improve her times all season. She set Freedom's school records in the 1,600-meter run (5:06.96) and the 3,200-meter run (11:08.69) at the Baldwin Invitational on May 3.

"Running is extremely important to me," said Adams, whose older sister, Ashley, competes as a thrower for Duquesne's women's track and field team. "I really want to continue my running career after high school.

"Whether it's on trails, on a track or in the gym, I want to keep running."

A star cross country runner in the fall, Adams finished 12th at the WPIAL championships this past fall and went on to place 10th in the PIAA finals.

"She was a sprinter in junior high and really picked up running when she got to high school," Shephard said. "In cross country, she was able to qualify for both WPIAL and states all four years."

A real passion for running came to Adams during her freshman year. After a brief stint playing with Freedom's girls soccer team, Adams decided to focus her interest solely on competing as a distance runner.

"I wanted to play a sport where I got the most out of it," Adams said. "I was able to get the most out of my individual effort running cross country.

"Because I did well as a freshman, I realized maybe running was something really for me."

Adams, however, did have a minor setback during her junior year when she sustained a stress fracture in her right foot last winter while cheerleading. Although she was able to compete during track season, Adams wasn't pleased with her times last year and quickly began preparing for this season.

"As a runner, she has that natural ability as well as the ability to work hard and train," Shephard said. "Her body responds well to training and preparation. She's very dedicated to work hard to be successful."

Those abilities also are what Shephard believes will help Adams today at Baldwin.

"She just needs to do her thing and run at her rate," Shephard said. "She has been able to learn the proper pace she needs to compete. If she sticks with that and works on her intervals, she'll be OK.

"Her biggest challenge is going to be keeping her pace."

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