A Hero’s Welcome for Emma
Pageland Progressive Journal, Tuesday, October 27, 2020
The shouts of encouragement rose when Emma Williamson of North Central started down the hill, just before entering the Central High School football stadium.
As she ran down the visitor’s sidelines, the shouts and clapping grew louder. As she rounded the corner for the final sprint to the finish, her North Central teammates spilled out of the stands to run the final 25 yards with Williamson. As she crossed the finish line there was a final burst of encouragement, a hero’s welcome for Williamson. But, there were no trophies or ribbons for Williamson. She had covered the Central cross-country course in 55:46.7 – the last place finisher in the recent 4-AA Region girls’ cross-country meet.
“That’s what beautiful around our sport,” said Central cross-country coach and meet director Joel Dale. “We support each other. There was no reason not to rally behind Emma.” Central’s girls had even approached their coach about running with Williamson for the final, stadium lap to encourage her.
Dale, as meet director, wouldn’t allow that as technically you are not allowed to help another runner. But when Williamson neared the finish line, Dale had already told North Central coach Jeremy Cogdill it was OK if her teammates joined her for the final yards.
Williamson, a junior, has thrown the shot put and discus for the North Central track team.
She came to Cogdill and asked him about the cross-country team.
Initially, Cogdill tried to discourage her. She had come to him after the deadline to try out for the team. Williamson persisted, telling Cogdill, “I know I’ll be last, but I want to come out and better myself.”
And that’s what Williamson did, one step at a time, for 3.1 miles.