Prep girls' track: Davis' graceful hurdler
Christine Van Brocklin knows a little something about focus and discipline. Fourteen years of ballet training gave the Davis High senior all the determination, along with strength, coordination and flexibility she needed to become one of the top hurdlers in the state.
Dance made her a natural. Some unexpected speed didn't hurt.
"But where dance is so graceful, track is just pure aggression," Van Brocklin said. "That took some getting used to."
The ballerina opted to stick with the fight.
Her stage became the starchy corners of the Davis High track. Toe shoes were traded in for track spikes; pirouettes and pliÃ©s replaced by trail legs and touchdowns.
She's lost count of the hours spent perfecting her start, form and cadence of steps over a set of steel barriers over half her height.
For Van Brocklin, it's just a different kind of bar to conquer.
"I love track and how it teaches you to push yourself," she said. "I think it's taught me how to be tough in life, too. I loved dancing, too, but I just had to make a decision to let it go,"
The Darts can be grateful she did.
However, it wasn't until after her stellar junior season that Van Brocklin set her eyes exclusively on the track. A third- and fourth-place finish at the state meet in the 300- and 100-meter hurdles helped her realize the potential coach Corbin Talley and hurdle coach Jamie West saw long before.
"She just has so much strength," Talley said. "She's so petite, but she can really move. I think she surprises people that way a little bit."
And she's only getting faster.
On April 27, Van Brocklin used the home track to her advantage to place second at the Davis Invitational in both the 100 and 300 hurdles with blistering personal-best times of 14.52 seconds and 44.54 seconds, respectively. She narrowly was edged in both events by Sky View's Brenna Porter, who currently holds the state record in both events.
She followed it with consistent performances at the prestigious BYU Invitational, placing third in the 100 hurdles and fourth in the 300 hurdles. Her 59-second split in the 1,600 relay helped the Darts edge out Maple Mountain to win the final event of the day.
But true to her disciplined roots, Van Brocklin wasn't satisfied.
"It wasn't my best day, but it was still solid," she said. "I wasn't as focused as I could have been, but it's just made me hungry for next time."
It's all part of what makes Van Brocklin a rare competitor and what's drawn the attention of every in-state collegiate track program.
"She just has so much positive energy," Talley said. "You can just see her competitive drive, but she's a great teammate, too. It's the best of both worlds."
Fortunately for Van Brocklin and the Darts, the worlds of dance and track and field continue to collide in the best ways.
From the starting blocks, she views each race as a performance. She reminds herself of the training and dedication that lead her to the starting line. Then she tries to let the race take over.
"With dance and track, it's all about confidence," she said.
She contributed 11 individual points to the girls' second consecutive 5A state championship last year. She'll be thinking of a three-peat team title as well as her individual goals at this year's state meet May 17 and 18.
"When I'm sitting in the blocks, I think about what I want over and over in my head," Van Brocklin said. "And then I just try to let it flow."