She may have just wrapped up her freshman year of high school, but Clare’s Jasmine Harper looked like anything but a rookie on the track this spring. Harper, who has been named the Clare County Review’s Girls’ Track and Field Athlete of the Year ran her way to second place finishes in the 1600 and 3200 at the division three state meet in Comstock Park.
“She prepares and races like a veteran,” Clare girls’ track and field coach Kyle McKown said of Harper. “Finishing second in the state in the mile and two mile shows how strong she really was able to run this season. She does the right things and that gives her the opportunity to be successful. She is very humble and her character is equally impressive. We are excited to work with Jasmine over the next three years and to help her to be the best athlete and person that she can be.”
Harper already has a gaudy resume after just one season. On top of the pair of second place finishes at the state meet, she holds school record times in both events (4:59 in the 1600, 11:01 in the 3200) and ran a strong time of 2:21 in the 800 as well. She was also the Jack Pine Conference MVP.
“I believe I ran what I did because God was with me, I also have been able to grow up watching my siblings Victoria (who was also all-state in the two mile) and Jonathan race, which has encouraged me to do my very best all the time,” Harper said. “My coach, Kyle McKown is a huge factor in my running career. I would not be where I am without him.”
For Harper, who also had a break-out cross country season last fall, running track wasn’t anything out of the ordinary. She had already been running non-stop anyways.
“I think cross country definitely helps with running track,” she said. “I run in the winter and summer too so it kind of just keeps going. After running cross, I was really excited to see how my first high school track season would turn out.”
It turned out just fine. In fact, better than even her coach expected.
“Her dedication and hard work gave her the base that she needed to work from and she was able to exceed any expectation that we had set for her season,” McKown said. “It wasn’t just the times that she was able to run, her fearless style of racing and how she was able to race with patience may have been the most impressive things of all about her season.”
Her banner season ended with a strong day at the state finals. With her two second place finishes as proof, she was more than ready.
“I think if I were to run in the state finals a year ago, my nerves would have been completely different but this year, I’ve noticed that everything is a lot easier if you put your trust in God,” Harper said. “It also helps knowing that I’ve run these races before. Sometimes it’s best to not focus on the fact that it is a big meet and just race.”
Her coach sees the mental aspect of her career already taking off.
“She is fearless and she never backs down from a challenge,” McKown said. “She believes in herself and is willing to rise up against any challenge.”
For her next challenge? Having an even better sophomore campaign.
“I do hope I can improve,” Harper said. “I know that hard work is the key to improvement and I will continue to give it my all in the future. I hope that I can always make the Clare community proud.”