Michaela Crunkleton Wilson is on her way to becoming one of the most accomplished runners in Southern Arizona history.
The Salpointe Catholic senior swept the sprinting events at the Division II state meet last spring, winning the 100, 200 and 400 meters, and has helped the Lancers win two straight girls team titles.
Crunkleton Wilson, who also won the 100 and 200 as a sophomore, is signed to run at Stanford, which is ranked No. 10 in the nation this year and has a rich history of success.
“The team there has their sights set on the same goals I did,” Crunkleton Wilson said. “It’s good to have that kind of atmosphere where everyone kind of pushes you to definitely be the best person you can be, not only in track, but in academics and as a person.”
The Star recently sat down with Crunkleton Wilson to find out three goals she has for her final high school season:
Target on the back
Crunkleton Wilson has competed in meets all over the country and returns to the track this spring as a strong favorite to defend all three titles.
She might even add an event.
“We’re allowed to have four events,” said Crunkleton Wilson, who placed second in the 100 at the 2012 USA Track & Field Junior Olympics. “I guess we’ll see if we can win four events this year.”
Some athletes would become complacent with their prestigious standing. Not Crunkleton Wilson, who spent this past Thursday afternoon working out in Salpointe’s weight room before heading to practice.
“It’s kind of like you have a target on your back now,” she said. “So you’re trying to keep that target as far away as possible from everyone else. It pushes you to work even harder.”
Do it for the team
Individual events on the track can force a you-against-the-world mentality on the athletes. Only one person can win, and one slight misstep can be the difference between winning the race and finishing well behind the pack. Michaela turns to her teammates as her inspiration.
“Coming in as a freshman, I definitely thought of track completely as an individual sport,” Crunkleton Wilson said. “Coming out now, you realize track is a very team-oriented sport and you do everything for your teammates, and you hope they do the same for you. That’s where 95 percent of my motivation comes from.”
Keep running fun
Becoming a state champion and Stanford signee required countless hours of training. Her four years of high school have been anything but typical or common.
“As a sophomore coming out, you’re kind of just doing it for fun,” she said. “Junior year, everyone’s trying to push you and have you start thinking about college.”
Her perspective has changed as she reaches the homestretch of her high school career.
“Senior year, now that you’re signed for college, you kind of have to make a name for yourself,” Crunkleton Wilson said. “That’s not what I really want to do — I just want to run for fun again.”