Harrisburg junior Sierra Brabham-Lawrence is a hurdles. Everything from 55 and 60 indoor, to 100, 300 (and hopefully next year, 400) outdoor. She made the semi's in AAA as a sophomore... and as a junior, medaled with a 7th place finish in the 100. Because of budget cuts, she did not run indoor until this past season, and in her first crack at the shorter race, she won a state title and tied the state meet record. At NBNI - fighting an illness - she made the semis. This spring she immediately went in the top of the 100 hurdles rankings, and is currently PA#2. And her 300m Hurdles from Pan-Ram remains PA#1. This season she added the triple jump, and in her first competition went to PA#1. She is currently PA#2.
Photos by Don Rich and Patty Morgan
PTXC: After a somewhat tough day at Bruce Dallas, especially in the 300 hurdles, did you have something to prove at Pan-Ram? Three PR’s. Three wins. A 300 hurdles that would have gotten you into Penn easily a week ago.
SBL: To answer your first question. I did have something to prove, which was, I'm not just a 100m hurdler. I can do both and I’m really good at both.
PTXC: Where did that triple jump come from?
SBL: I’d recently just started triple jumping that Tuesday and I was pretty nervous because I had no idea what I was doing and I just wanted to try and do my best to score some points for my team.
PTXC: Talk about what worked at Pan-Ram in all three events. Has your training indicated a day like that?
14.17 PA#2 after Pan-Ram
43.14 PA#1 after Pan-Ram
38-10.25 PA#1 after Pan-Ram
Editor's Note: The next week at the Shippensburg Invitational, she won three gold medals on the day, winning the high hurdles (14.72) (with a near stop after her steps were off), the intermediate hurdles (44.00) and was a member of the winning 4x400 meter relay team (3:59.10).
SBL: Well the 100H I wasn't doing that good at practice the previous days before with my technique. But I tried to keep it together and do the best time possible. The 300H I knew that I had a lot of good competitors in front of me so I just had to go after them & just to show everyone that I had the endurance and could finish a race.
PTXC: How did you get into track?
SBL: I first starting running when I was 10 years old and I was originally a 400m runner. I became a hurdler when I got into high school.
PTXC: What other sports have you done?
SBL: I used to play basketball but I dropped that for track. But I play volleyball for Harrisburg as well. I play front center & middle back. I’m our team’s #1 spiker.
PTXC: What are you favorite parts of the sport? Greatest challenges?
SBL: My favorite part of the sport...i'm really not sure. I just enjoy it because it’s my outlet. The greatest challenges is the training of course but I don't mind it. But another is just taking a loss because I'm one of those athletes that can not stand losing. That's why winning the 300H at pan-rams was very important.
PTXC: You got some good races as a freshman in states, getting to the semis. Where were you at that point, and what did you learn from your freshman track experience?
SBL: One thing that I can take from my freshman year was that you can't win everything and there's always gonna be someone better then you, so whereever you make it be grateful.
PTXC: As a sophomore, you won your first District 3 100 hurdle title. Were you happy to get a state medal, or did you see yourself as better than that finish?
SBL: I was ecstatic to win districts. Not just for myself, but because as a school we were all doing good that year. From the football and basketball teams (especially since the basketball team won the district 3 championship title as well), so I wanted to bring something back. I wish I could've did a better time but I was just happy to win.
PTXC: You didn’t run indoor either freshman or sophomore years. Why? And how did you get the opportunity this year?
SBL: The reason why I didn't do indoor either my freshman or sophomore years were just due to the fact of the financial issues going on with the district with all the budget problems and cuts. Unfortunately the indoor track team was a part of those cuts. But the reason we had a team this year was from, a former Harrisburg coach. Coach Manning coming back and funding the team with his own money.
PTXC: You came out of the gate fast at F&M and Dickinson, running your first-ever indoor 55 or 60 meter hurdles. What did you have to adjust and how hard was it to transition to the shorter distance?
SBL: Coming out and running the 55H wasn't really hard to adjust to because I haven't been in an actual hurdle race since the summer. So I was fine, it was just really short to me.
PTXC: You had an incredible indoor state meet this year, tying the state meet record. What were your expectations going into the meet?
SBL: Going into the state meet I just wanted to win. And knew that that was what I've been waiting for all season and was ready.
PTXC: Take us through the prelims and semis at that meet. Were they confidence builders?
SBL: During the Prelim race I never raced any of those girls or heard of them and I didn't know if they were aware of who I was. So I didn't know what they were capable of, but I had to win . My goal for that race was just to have a clean race and make it to Semi's. My semi race I was not actually set and got out late & ended up being a hurdle behind. But I seen everyone getting to far, and I got so mad and went after them because I had to make it to finals because that was the goal.
PTXC: You were going against Ciara Leonard, who had been close to a state title before, but was the favorite going into your final on March 1st. What were you thinking going into the race, and talk about how it unfolded? You just held off her charge at the end.
SBL: After that close Semi race I thought it was over and I was not going to be able to be by Ciara to beat her, and I started crying because my time was terrible and I thought that was the worst race in the world. But my coach got me under control and told me he never seen anything like that because I was behind, caught up to them, passed them, and hit a hurdle, and won. But finally lining up with Ciara that was the moment I've been waiting for since the Carnival. I knew she was going to lay it on the track and so was I. I was completely focused and the only thing I wanted to hear was the gun.
PTXC: You had a great prelims at New Balance Nationals, but didn’t make finals. Talk about the two races and any challenges you were facing. What did you learn from the meet and the level of competition?
SBL: Me going to the New Balance nationals was not actually part of my calendar until a week prior. So to me it kinda felt like a regular meet. I’m glad I made it to Semis but I knew I wasn't in the race even before the gun even went off. I was actually sick and didn't know it. I had the worst start ever, and I seen I was behind so I tried to get back in it (like I did in the semis at states) but I didn't have anything to give. What I learned from nationals is that you always have to be ready. Because I really wasn’t.
PTXC: Your expectations for rest of this season?
SBL: I would really like to go under 14 in the 100H. In the triple jump I would like to jump 40ft or better. But some meets I’m going to include the Penn Relays for the first time! I'm very excited. And I’ll be at districts and states of course. Hopefully I’ll be going to the outdoor nationals as well.
PTXC: How does your training differ from indoor to outdoor? From the 100 to the 300?
SBL: Nothing really changes my training right now is just going week to week, because all of these meets. But I've been doing a lot of fast paced runs so I can have that speed for the 100H and so I can have enough for the 300H.
PTXC: Talk a little about the great tradition of Harrisburg track? What are the stories that make an impression on you?
SBL: Some of the great traditions is just going out there and giving it your all, being a family, and most importantly having fun and keeping a smile on your face. Some of the stories that I love hearing is just some of the hardest races some of the "greats" had to run. As well as how were things leading up to those big wins.
PTXC: Is Ciara, or Sierra, the better spelling for a first name?
SBL: You can spell Sierra any way. It’s really your preference. But I do get asked a lot why do people call me Cice if my name is spelled with an “S”. But I just let them go and tell them "Im different".