Anna Curlin has been running most of her life — starting on playgrounds and advancing to Western Hills High School track team.
That’s led to five state high school track titles and a scholarship to Murray State University.
Curlin, who graduated from WHHS in June, has been named The State Journal Senior Athlete of the Year. She was selected in voting by area sportswriters from a field of six nominees from the three local high schools.
Franklin County graduate Kara Howard finished second in the voting, and FCHS graduate Nannilena White was third. Howard has signed to play softball at Georgetown College, and White has signed to play basketball at Union College.
This is the 10th year for the award, which began in 2005, and Curlin is the second female to win the award. The other female was WHHS graduate Meagan Walker in 2011.
Curlin is also the first one-sport athlete to win the award.
She started racing classmates on the playground in grade school, beating boys and girls.
“I mostly remember saying ‘I want to race,’” Curlin said, “and the other kids saying, ‘no, I don’t want to race against you. It’s not any fun,’ but I’d keep saying, ‘come on, come on.’”
Curlin placed in the 400-meter dash at state all four years of high school, finishing fourth as a freshman, third her sophomore year and winning the event as a junior and senior. Her personal best time in the 400 is 56.42 seconds.
Her first state title came in the 4x400-meter relay as a sophomore, the same year the Lady Wolverines won the state team title.
She closed out her high school career at state in May with wins in the 100, 200 and 400-meter dashes.
Were you surprised by your success at this year’s state track meet?
Yes, honestly, 110 percent completely surprised. The 100 was the most surprising, and the 200 was a surprise coming out of lane 8. In the 400 I went in wanting to win back-to-back championships. Winning the 1 and 2 was icing on the cake.
What is your favorite sports memory at Western Hills?
I don’t know if I can pick just one. It was a lot of days at practice. It’s a funny team, funny coaches. It’s just a lot of fun. It’s not like they’re only pounding on you. Of course they’re pushing you to do your best, but it’s still fun. We have really funny coaches.
What do you think makes a good athlete?
Dedication. Focus. Drive. Willing to do better and sacrifice some things.
Who has been the biggest influence on you when it comes to sports?
I’d have to say my coaches. I’ve had a few coaches — Mike (Schardein) and (Christian) Adair and Preston (Herron). I guess if you could combine them into one person, it would be that person.
When did you start running track?
I started in the sixth grade. I’d always raced kids on the playground and I always liked it. When they started a track team I thought it would be something I’d like to do, and it stuck.
Were you successful right away?
I didn’t do well right away. I wasn’t really fast, and the coaches didn’t really notice me. When I was in the seventh and eighth grades I got a little faster, and the coaches paid more attention. They said “we can train her up and put her on some relays.”
Your grandmother (Beth Curlin) is an accomplished golfer. Did you ever try the sport?
I tried it. She really wanted one of her grandchildren to be a golfer. She tried with all nine of us, and it finally stuck with my younger brother. I don’t have the patience to learn how to do it.
What do you like most about track?
It’s quick. Not all of it, but the sprints, the things I do, are quick. When I’m doing it, it’s more reaction. You don’t have much time to think. You think about getting to the end. I can’t hear anybody yelling, even my mother. People will ask me, “Did you hear me yelling for you?” No, I don’t hear anything.
Who are some people who made a difference for you in high school?
J.R. Zinner, for sure, he’s an ag teacher. Then there are my coaches, Mike, Christian and Preston, who helped me even when he wasn’t my coach. He was there the whole time.
What will you miss most about high school?
How much fun it was. I’m afraid when I get to college practices will be so serious, nitty-gritty and down to business. I’ll miss having a fun team, sitting around and joking around.
What are you most looking forward to in college?
The newness of it, new coaches and a larger team. I might be able to do some relay stuff I haven’t been able to do in the past because of numbers — bigger and better in a way.