Today, we salute Clare Marsh of Saint Joseph's Catholic Academy. The hurdle star was a multi-time state medalist, most notably capturing third in the 300m hurdles state meet in 2019 and second in the 100m hurdles at the state meet in 2021. She ran personal bests of 14.86 in the 100m hurdles and 45.23 in the 300m hurdles during her high school career.
Marsh reflected on her career for PennTrackXC below.
What was your most memorable race/competition?
My sophomore year at States I placed third in the 300h. Going into the race I was pretty intimidated by the level of competition I would be facing, but I gave it everything I had and in the last 100 meters I kicked faster than I ever had before. Getting that bronze medal made me realize that I was good enough to compete with those girls and gave me the inspiration to chase down a top finish in the future.
Where did you face your biggest competition?
In the 100h finals at States this year I was faced with the best competition of my career. I was pushed through every hurdle and forced to execute at the best of my ability. That competition brought me a silver medal and a PR I'd been dreaming of and working toward for a long time.
Out of all of your high school accomplishments, which stands out the most?
My 100h silver medal at states this year. Not having a track or even real hurdles to practice with, I never thought I could be a great 100 hurdler. My coach convinced me to stick with it though, and we worked hard to improve my technique, speed, and all around fitness. I didn't have all the best resources, but I had a fantastic support system and I never gave up. I committed and put in all the work to achieve a time I would've believed I could run four years ago.
If you could do it all over again, what would you change about your athletic career in high school?
I would have believed in myself sooner. As a freshman and sophomore, I struggled greatly with nerves and fear of failure instead of just embracing the opportunity that was in front of me. If I could do it all again I would trust myself from the beginning and keep my mind off of the things I can't control. Losing my junior season showed me just how much I love my sport and to embrace every opportunity that comes my way.
What were the most difficult obstacles you had to overcome?
As a young runner, I put so much pressure on myself that I often made myself sick and eventually stopped enjoying what I was doing. I realized that track wasn't going to be worth doing if I didn't love it, so I shifted my focus. Instead of being afraid of things I couldn't control, I focused on giving my best effort and competing against myself. I learned that a new PR and seeing myself improve is better and more gratifying than any medal I've ever won.
What will you miss the most?
I am going to miss my coaches and my team more than I can describe. They were there through all the highs and lows and created an environment that made me love this sport. I'll miss all of our non-traditional workouts in the street and our hurdle days on the roll-out mat in the gym. Those obstacles are what made us stronger and closer than we ever could have been otherwise.
Do you have any advice for younger athletes?
Make sure you love what you're doing, and when you do, pour your heart into it and don't leave any room for regret. Things may not turn out as you envisioned, but if you love what you're doing and embrace every opportunity, you will be forever grateful for the time you spent and the lessons learned.
How have your coaches influenced your performances and your life goals overall?
I would not be where I am today if it weren't for my coach. He believed in me before I even believed in myself and pushed me every day to be the best athlete and person I could be. He created a team environment that felt like family, which encouraged me and taught me to love my sport again. His vision is what inspired me and led me to the successes in my career that I'm so blessed and grateful for.
What are your post-high school plans?
I will be attending Catholic University in Washington, DC to continue my running career and study politics.
My family has been by my side from the very beginning and has supported me and encouraged me through everything. I especially want to thank my Dad. He's been at every meet, filmed every race, timed every quarantine workout, and been my biggest motivator. My love for this sport would not exist if not for him.