Maybe Emily Pritt is just a slow learner. More likely she’s just
modest. Slow is not in her skill set. The Massillon Jackson senior
would, however, like to be a little bit faster. Pritt won the mile for the third straight year at the North Canton Hoover Division I District last
Friday. It’s outside of Stark County that Pritt yearns for success.
Maybe Emily Pritt is just a slow learner. More likely she’s just modest. Slow is not in her skill set. The Massillon Jackson senior would, however, like to be a little bit faster.
Pritt won the mile at the North Canton Hoover District last Friday, finishing in 5:15.50, nearly three seconds ahead of her closest pursuer. That was business as usual, though; she’s won the district title three times to go along with three Federal League championships in the event.
It’s outside of Stark County that Pritt yearns for success. The most dominant runner from the Canton area in recent years, she has always just come close on the regional and state level.
“It’s frustrating, but at the same time when you’ve got girls like (Cleveland Heights Beaumont’s) Emily Infeld and (Worthington Kilbourne’s) Claire Durkin, girls that are not only the best in Ohio, but the best in the nation, I think about just trying to improve. One of the things I’ve learned is you can’t worry about other people. You’ve got to race your own race. I try not to think about what Emily Infeld is doing, or what the No. 1 person in front of me is doing.”
But Pritt knows exactly what those girls are doing, as well as anyone else in the state who could keep up with her, or more, in a mile. She’ll see Infeld this coming weekend at the Austintown Fitch Regional. While Pritt was running a 5:15 at Hoover, Infeld was nearly half a minute faster at the Mentor District.
“Oh sure, just to know where I stand,” Pritt said of comparing times from other districts. “I know if I see Infeld or somebody’s run a faster time than I have it just gives me that much more incentive to work harder and gives me extra motivation during practice, when things can tend to get pretty slow. You just think about what has to be done to make it to the state level.”
Of the 16 girls to qualify for Austintown in the mile, Pritt's district time was only the seventh-fastest. That's where things get a bit misleading. Pritt led the entire race at Hoover and was never threatened. By contrast, the Ravenna District had three girls within three seconds at the finish.
On top of that, Pritt was battling the effects of a leg injury that she tried hard to put out of her mind while circling the track.
“Coming back and with the caliber of runners out here today, it was a good victory,” she said. “I try not to think about (the injury). You only have four laps. You’ve just got to think of something else. You’ve got to try to keep your mind off it. You’ve just got to focus on other things.
“I think about my form and listen to my coaches. I try to pick them out and listen to their advice and relax and try to enjoy myself as much as I can.”
But on her best day, Pritt can go under five minutes. That’s still a spell behind Infeld’s best time, but definitely has her in elite company and certainly places her among the best ever from her area.
Pritt’s district time this year was eight seconds slower than her district record time of a year earlier. A week after setting that record a year ago, Pritt sliced seven more seconds off her time, logging a 4:58.44. Still, that left her 11 seconds behind Infeld.
“At the same time it’s frustrating because I want to be at the place I’d be at if I didn’t have people like her pushing me,’ she said.
The giants of the sport have left Pritt without so much as a regional championship, despite dominating the league and district. She finished second to Infeld last year at districts. Before Infeld, it was Mantua Crestwood's Bridget Franek — maybe the best distance runner in state history — in her way.
At the state meet last year, Infeld set the state mile record. Pritt finished third (Durkin was between the two). Pritt finished fourth at the state cross country meet last fall – Durkin won; Infeld won the Division II race – to lead Jackson to a third-place finish.
Pritt’s accomplishments are enough to have earned her a track/cross country scholarship from North Carolina State.
With that destination in mind, she hopes to have run her last cold-weather race in the whipping winds at Hoover.
“You worry about things you can control and weather’s not something you can control, especially here in Ohio,” said Pritt, a 3.6 student who takes mostly advanced placement classes. “I learned that a little too late, since I’m leaving.”
Like that lesson, for Pritt, a win at Fitch, or better yet, in Columbus, would certainly be better late than never.