Sawyer: a true champion


Christina Sawyer (l-r) and Kayla Windemuller. Photo submitted.

In a foot race where every fraction of a second matters, Tecumseh High School distance runner Christina Sawyer stopped in her tracks when the runner beside her fell to the ground despite knowing that she was risking giving up a state championship.
She had set a goal of making a national cut time (10.58) in the 3,200-meter at the Michigan High School Athletic Association Division 2 state meet in Zeeland on June 4 but when the competitor next to her made contact and went down, Sawyer gave up her dreams and made sure the fallen runner, Kayla Windemuller (Holland Christian), was ok and able to get back in the race.
“I was coming around, I was really close to her and I think she tripped on me. Our legs got a little tangled and she went down,” said Sawyer. She thinks the trip happened on the final 100 meters of the seventh of eight total laps.
Sawyer said for a split second after the runner’s fall she didn’t know what to do. But she waited and encouraged the girl to get up and get back in the race. “I just ended up waiting for her because she was a really good runner. I feel like I wouldn’t have gotten any satisfaction out of winning because I tripped someone,” Sawyer said. “It’s one of those things where you want the best runner to win and I don’t think I was the best runner in that race. I think she deserved to win.”
Sawyer waited until Windemuller got up and started running again before she took off. Windemuller sprinted to the finish line just steps ahead of Sawyer and is now a state champion. She clocked in at 10:59.52 while Sawyer finished runner-up with her personal best time of the season, 11:00.57. It wasn’t Windemuller’s best time. The sophomore had previously recorded a time of 10:43.63 in a competition on May 24.
The third place runner, sophomore Makayla Perez (Allen Park), finished the race with a time of 11:08.68.
Sawyer had also fallen down earlier  in the 3,200-meter race. She had previously run the 1,600-meter and finished second so she stared out with a plan to pace herself with the girl who had won. The two caught up with a pack in the 3,200-meter that got off to a quick start around the fourth lap and on the fifth lap Sawyer went down.
“I’m not exactly sure what happened,” said Sawyer. “The girl in front of me tripped and I tripped over her. I got back up and started running again.”
Before long, Sawyer was running with the leader and concentrating on making the national cut time again.
“The only thing I regret, I wish neither of the trips would have happened and then I would have made the cut time. That’s what I really wanted,” said Sawyer. “But I’m happy with my place and everything.”
She said if she was going to win she didn’t want it to be because someone else tripped. “Next year, I want to win but I want to win because I deserve to win, not because someone else messed up,” she said, emphatically.
Her parents, Kathi and Doug, home schooled her until last season when she began attending Tecumseh Public Schools to join its sports programs as a sophomore. 
Christina said her parents raised her as a Christian and that played into her thought process that split second after Windemuller fell. 
“My mom and dad were always really encouraging to do the right thing. I’m a Christian and so are my parents, so they brought me up with the idea that no matter what the situation is you need to decide what you think is right and do that.”
After the race Christina made sure to apologize to the fallen runner.
She is extremely focused on shaving off seconds from her times, having changed to a paleo diet this year for major improvements and is really looking forward to next year. “I think I will just destroy my best cross-country personal record,” she said.
Christina began running in eighth grade when she entered a 5k and began training. “I’m the kind of person that when I decide to do something I’m all in,” she said. It didn’t take very long she said before falling in love with running. “That’s when I decided I wanted to go to school so I could do cross country and track.” She said that following winter she ran a 30k, which is 18.6 miles with a family friend, Amanda Gardiner, who inspired and pushed her to become a good runner.
Christina admits that she has become very competitive since then. “I am extremely aggressive,” she said. “Any of my friends you ask will tell you, I’m one of the most competitive and aggressive people they know.”
She is hoping to attend a Division 1 college in the future but for now is just looking forward to her final competitive season next year as a high school senior.


Tecumseh Herald


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