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Onondaga runner brings home medals

CANASTOTA, N.Y. ñ At LaFayette High School in central New York, Bobbie Steeprock earned numerous awards, broke several school records and earned the title of scholar athlete, all as a freshman.

ìI just love to run,î she said. And that love of running earned Steeprock one silver medal and three bronze medals to add to her collection of awards and honors.

Steeprock, 14, was one of nearly 70 athletes from the Onondaga Nation who traveled to Denver for the 2006 North American Indigenous Games, held July 2 ñ 8.

This fall, Steeprock, Eel Clan, will be a sophomore at the high school, where she plays on the volleyball and softball teams in addition to running cross country.

ìI started running cross country in seventh grade,î she said. ìI would say it was my passion. I like it. Itís a big stress releaser and it keeps me in good shape.î

Steeprock earned the bronze metal in the cross country 5K run, becoming the first member of Team New York to earn a medal.

ìI was so embarrassed,î she said. ìThey called my name and I stood up and everyone started clapping. My face turned beet-red. After that, everyone would come up to me and congratulate me and tell me how red my face got.î

Steeprock said she had only planned on competing in one competition, but signed up for three others when she arrived.

ìThe cross country was on Monday and I didnít want to be done with my competition on the first day, so I entered the track and field competitions,î she said.

Steeprock earned a silver medal in the 3K race, and bronze medals in the 1,500-meter and 400-meter. She said she was surprised with her wins because she wasnít prepared for the races.

ìI went there without any practice,î she said. ìIíve been running only about once a week. I thought I would place in the cross country, but I didnít expect to do as well as I did.î

Steeprock said sheís been playing sports her whole life and owes her accomplishments to her parents.

ìI get the passion to run from my father, heís a runner himself,î she said. ìI get my pushing from my mom. I like to push myself.î

Softball was Steeprockís sport of choice while growing up. She said sheís always been athletic, and when she reached high school she decided try cross country and volleyball. For the rest of her summer vacation, Steeprock will play softball for two local leagues.

ìI had so much fun,î she said. ìI knew I would have fun, but I didnít know I would have as much fun as I did. I didnít want to leave. Iím excited to go again.î

Steeprock said she wants to get in shape for the 2006 cross country season and looks forward to competing in the 2008 Indigenous Games.

ìI didnít practice before the competition, but when I went out there I realized how close I got to the girls who won,î she said. ìIím excited to go back and see how I will do with more practice.î