Riverdale's May stands tall on the track

Posted Online: April 16, 2013, 8:25 pm
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By Daniel Makarewicz, danmak@qconline.com
When it comes to height, Riverdale senior sprinter Elle May comes up short.

A 5-foot-4 frame provides all the evidence.

"I never got a growth spurt," May said. "I just never really grew."

On the track, that appears to put May at a disadvantage since the strides are shorter and more energy is consumed during a race. However, this week's Area Pacesetter for The Dispatch and The Rock Island Argus takes it all in stride since her height is something she cannot control.

By now, it is something she fully embraces.

"I pretty much figured it out sophomore year," May said. "I heard from lots of people I wasn't going to grow anymore. I didn't think I was going to be tall, but my dad is 6-feet-5. I thought I would have been a little bit taller, but I've accepted it and used it to the best of my abilities."

Being short, in her mind, actually is a good thing.

What may seem to be a deficiency provides May with the tools that makes her a four-time state medalist. Knowing her opponents have an advantage in terms of height, she makes up for it with a competitive edge that turns her into a gifted sprinter.

How else can you explain May sweeping the 100-, 200- and 400-meter races at the Riverdale Invitational last Friday?

"She's an excellent competitor," Riverdale coach Ami Seeser said. "She's going to try her hardest to win, and you can see it in her face every time. It's fun to watch her."

Using "quick steps" during a race, May keeps up with an unorthodox mechanical approach that sometimes causes her to take "three steps in what takes some people one step." Because of this, "it takes more energy out of me to go as fast as I can" in order to "keep up."

After saying that, she's asked if she ever wishes her legs were longer.

"I've just gone as fast as my legs have been able to take me," said May, who set the Riverdale Invitational 200 record in 26.87 seconds. "It is hard looking at other peoples' legs. I'm jealous when it gets to striding because I can't stride."

All this created a chip on her shoulder, a work ethic those around May label as her best trait.

"I had to be faster to keep up," May said. "I work just as hard in practice (as I do in meets), if not harder. I want to push myself to my full potential to get my legs in as good of shape as they can be."

No excuses. Just results.

"My shortness," May said, "isn't a (disadvantage) whatsoever."

Some, though, still wonder how she could be so short considering her dad and two sisters are tall.

"She looks like she would," Seeser said.

It simply was not meant to be.Then again, being short seems to be something May likes.

"I don't know if I'd be better," May said. "I wouldn't have to try as hard and I'd have to settle with what I have."

Area Pacesetter -- Riverdale's Elle May

Favorite food: Candy and tomatoes
Favorite movie: 'The Hunger Games'
Favorite class: French
Favorite track: Riverdale High School
Favorite team: University of Iowa
Parents: Doug and Mitzi May, Rapids City

In the running
Devin Johnson, Erie-Prophetstown: Broke a 57-year-old Fulton Relays record by leaping 22-3  to win the long jump.
Karissa Roman, Annawan-Wethersfield: Leaped 5-feet-9 to win the high jump at the Annawan-Wethersfield quad.
Mackenzie Smith, Orion: Had seven hits and five RBIs in the Chargers' West Central North doubleheader sweep of Macomb.
T.J. Henry, Rockridge: Set a Fulton Relays record in the high jump with an effort of 6-feet-7.25.
Kevin Claus, Riverdale: Won the 3200 with a Riverdale Invitational record time of 10:04.35.
Michael Cook, Annawan-Wethersfield: Swept the 800 and 1600 titles at both the Howard-Monier and Riverdale invitationals.


Local events heading

  Today is Wednesday, April 23, the 113th day of 2014. There are 252 days left in the year.

1864 — 150 years ago: Some persons are negotiating for 80 feet of ground on Illinois Street with a view of erecting four stores thereon. It would serve a better purpose if the money was invested in neat tenement houses.
1889 — 125 years ago: The Central station, car house and stables of the Moline-Rock Island Horse Railway line of the Holmes syndicate, together with 15 cars and 42 head of horses, were destroyed by fire. The loss was at $15,000.
1914 — 100 years ago: Vera Cruz, Mexico, after a day and night of resistance to American forces, gradually ceased opposition. The American forces took complete control of the city.
1939 — 75 years ago: Dr. R. Bruce Collins was reelected for a second term as president of the Lower Rock Island County Tuberculosis Association.
1964 — 50 years ago: Work is scheduled to begin this summer on construction of a new men's residence complex and an addition to the dining facilities at Westerlin Hall at Augustana College.
1989 — 25 years ago: Special Olympics competitors were triple winners at Rock Island High School Saturday. The participants vanquished the rain that fell during the competition, and some won their events; but most important, they triumphed over their own disabilities.

(More History)