Running with a purpose

Published 12:34 am Friday, May 2, 2008

NATCHEZ — Distance running isn’t just about speed. It’s about discipline, endurance and strategy.

Those three things are something that Trinity Episcopal sophomore Jheri Ogden knows all about.

Ogden won the 800 meter, 1,600 meter and 3,200 meter runs in the MPSA Class AA South State Meet last weekend and will try to win them again on Saturday in the State Meet at Mississippi College in Clinton.

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“The Bible says that every good and perfect gift is from God and she uses those gifts to the fullest,” Trinity track coach Melanie Hall said. “Mentally, physically and spiritually, she uses what God has given her.”

Ogden has been running since the sixth grade, but began taking it very seriously the summer before her ninth grade year.

“I spent that summer practicing and was able to mature as a runner,” Ogden said. “I’ve kept training hard in hope of getting better.”

Ogden said she was drawn to the sport because of its laconic nature and stress-free environment.

“It’s a good stress relief,” Ogden said of the sport. “It’s easy to come out here and just relax.”

Ogden has been training with First Baptist Church pastor Doug Broome since he moved into the area about six weeks ago.

Broome has trained numerous distance runners through the years and likes what he sees in Ogden.

“She’s always had the ability, she’s now learned how to run and the strategy of it,” Broome said. “She has a very good (finishing) kick for a distance runner. That’s a bit unusual.”

Some of Ogden’s distance running strategy is letting others set the pace while drafting off of them and then take advantage of here finishing kick to take the lead and pull away from the field.

Ogden said it has taken a lot of hard work to develop her skills in distance running, but it was all worth it.

“I’m really determined and I’m not every going to give up,” she said. “I’m always trying to get better. I never want to reach my peak, although I know it’s going to happen. I hope it happens long after I stop competing.”

Broome said Ogden’s work ethic is one of the things that makes her a great distance runner.

“Anyone with speed can be a sprinter,” Broome said. “But not everyone can be a distance runner because of the commitment and discipline it takes. Jheri has made the commitment and done very well.”

Ogden said she wants to run as long as she can, and hopes to compete in marathons and half-marathons in the future.

“You put your body through a lot of strain,” Ogden said. “But when you finish, you feel like you’ve really gone out and accomplished something great.”