Posted Online: April 16, 2013, 8:25 pm

Riverdale's May stands tall on the track

Comment on this story

By Daniel Makarewicz,

More photos from this shoot
Photo: Paul Colletti
Riverdale senior sprinter Elle May is this week's Area Pacesetter for The Dispatch and The Rock Island Argus. May won the 100-, 200- and 400-meter races plus ran on the first-place 4x100 relay as the Rams won the Riverdale Invitational.
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.