PANTHER OF THE WEEK: Freshman sprinter Polser ‘pushes herself to be the best’
By Lance Catchings
Liberty Hill freshman Haley Polser has always loved running. She has worked hard to improve at her favorite sport, and this year, her hard work is showing. Polser competes for the Lady Panthers in the 200-meter dash, 4×200-meter relay and the 4×400-meter relay.
“Since August of 2017, I have really tried to prove my ability and workout with the older girls to compete against them in track,” Polser said. “I feel like it has really helped, because they have pushed me a lot. Coach Peterson saw that as we got closer to track season. She believed I could go out there and compete with other teams.”
Head Track Coach Gretchen Peterson said she saw something special in Polser early on.
“Haley is one of the most mature freshmen we have had in a while, and we have been really blessed with some great underclassmen over the years,” Peterson said. “She pushes herself to be the best and understands that to get better, she needs to be pushed. She has welcomed every challenge the upperclassmen have presented her with. She has really thrived in it all and is such a respectful athlete. She has really jumped in and made a spot for herself. We are lucky to have her be a part of the team and excited about all she has before her.”
Polser was a sprinter in her middle school days, but came into high school track not knowing what to expect. Peterson immediately knew what race her talents would be useful for.
“In the eighth grade, I ran the short sprints,” Polser said. “I came in thinking I would run similar things, but Coach Peterson wanted to put me in the 400-meter dash. I was a little shaky at the first meet, because I had never ran it before. After the first meet, I started to like it. I really love those races, because you have a chance to catch up to the person in front of you.”
Another surprise was making the varsity team in her first year. She knew it was what she wanted, but did not realize how quickly she would meet her goal.
“It was always a goal of mine to make the varsity team as a freshman,” Polser said. “I knew if I was just going to run track that I wanted to put everything I had, athletic-wise, into running. I wanted to prove during the offseason that I was capable of running on varsity. The weeks leading up to track season, I did not know what Coach Peterson would do with me. I thought I would be on junior varsity and maybe get the chance to move up. My teammates and coaches encouraged me, and I started getting a little more confidence as I was running. The day before our opening meet, she told me I was going to run varsity. It boosted my confidence to a whole new level.”
At age 15, Polser competes against many seniors who will participate in college track after graduation. She uses guidance from her teammates and coaches to help navigate the difficult competition.
“Running against so many older girls was a little intimidating for me at first, but the upperclassmen on my team have really helped to guide me,” she said. “During practice, they are always showing me the way and helping me out. They are out there competing just like I am and have been really helpful this year. Coach Peterson is always there to help and push me forward. Peterson and Coach (Chris) Lange have really been there to push me to meet my goals.”
Polser is excited about the upcoming district meet and is not ready for her freshman season to end.
“I am not nervous for district, but I am just trying to focus,” she said. “I just want to make sure that I am in shape and accomplishing what my goal is. I don’t want district to be my last race. It is only my freshman year, and I am so blessed to have three more years of track, but I don’t want it to end here. I know we have the capability and the coaching to get us past district. It is just going to take guts.”
Number one on her list of things to do while at Liberty Hill High School is to bring home a State Title.
“My goal before I graduate is to win a State Title in one of my events,” she said. “Over the next three years, I hope I have met my goals. I really hope to break 60 seconds in my 400. I want to be the girl out there running a 59 leaving the coaches dropping their jaws.”