When Lindsay Rowe first started running the hurdles, she caught on quick. But she still was finishing second in a majority of her races.
In the New York Federation Championship last March, that all changed - she finally broke through, finishing first.
Rowe recalled surfing the Internet prior to the race and seeing an article written about the event’s contenders, without mention of her name. “Here it was me, Lindsay Rowe, who came out of nowhere to win the state championship,” she said. “Me and my coach were just playing around. When I won States, I took it seriously.”
A year later, everyone knows her name. Rowe has steadily climbed the ladder this winter, putting up personal record times in each event over the last month. First, she won the 55-Meter City championship in 7.85 seconds, then captured the States again before appearing in the National Scholastic Indoor Championships.
There, her rapid climb only continued. After sub-par performances in the preliminaries, she shined in the final, speeding to a new personal best of 7.25, a New York State record.
“I’m very amazed,” she said. “I never thought I would make it this far.”
“When she started the hurdles we immediately saw the talent, especially with her being so consistent and determined with the training,” Cardozo Coach Gail Emmanuel said. “We knew she would get to this point, not necessarily so quick.”
Emmanuel later added, “Never in my years in coaching, have I had anyone progress so quickly. Two years ago, she was worried whether she was going to get any money to go to college. Today, the top schools in America are calling.”
Since that victory February 11th, Rowe has receiving phone calls and letters from prominent Division 1 schools like LSU, Illinois, UCLA, Florida State, Georgia Tech, Miami, and Villanova.
“It’s pretty overwhelming because I never thought colleges would call you and hunt you down to come to their school,” she said. “I never really took track serious. I didn’t think I would go anywhere further than Pennsylvania to go to college. I never thought schools in Florida would want me to go to their school.”
Before she started hurdling, Rowe was a middle-of-the-road middle-sprinter at Cardozo. At the behest of her club coach with the Novas, James Phipps, she started the event, which for a runner who had no prior experience, is quite challenging because of all the stops and starts.
It was a learning process at first. “All of the facets of making someone a smooth hurdler were missing,” he said. “She had to learn her form.”
Her background as a ballet dancer - Rowe started at the age of four - with the Harlem Dance Theater of Harlem helped prepare her for the hurdles.
Rowe caught on eventually after a long summer of practice. Her ability to build up momentum through a race, gaining steam on each jump, has transformed her into one of the nation’s best. Just like her will and effort.
“Every time,” she said, “I try to push myself to go harder and harder and harder.”