Giant Killers: The Power of 'One'

Red ShannonFeatured ColumnistJune 9, 2009

14 Oct 2000:  A silhouette of a runner at sunset during the Ironman Triathlon in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii.Mandatory Credit: Donald Miralle  /Allsport

In a series called "Giant Killers," the story of tiny Rochelle High School winning the Texas Class-A Girls Track Championship last weekend would seem fitting enough.

Note: Rochelle's total enrollment is a whopping 59 students.

Note again: the competition in Class-A included 56 other schools, and this is the second straight year this same team has won the title.

But that is not the real story at all...

When Rochelle track coach Jym Dennis congratulated his team on its surprising upset, he issued only one handshake... then one hug.

The recipient? A freckle-faced senior, Bonnie Richardson, who is the Rochelle High School girls track team.

Richardson single-handedly took on the entire Texas Class-A field and brought home the gold—again.

She won two events outright, then finished second, third, and fourth in her remaining events. Obviously, as the only member of her team, she could not compete in the relay events, which other teams relied on for bonus points.

The incredible young lady has other talents, too. She was the Class-A Division ll high school basketball Player of the Year, class valedictorian, member of the National Honor Society, and Chamber of Commerce Citizen of the Year.

She is also a class "A" person.

"Whatever she does, no one is more dedicated or quicker to share the credit. She's an unbelievable kid. I hate to see her go" said Rochelle High School principal Steve Butler.

Richardson earned a full scholarship to Texas A&M, where she will major in nutrition. Texas A&M track coach Pat Henry sees Richardson as a candidate for the heptathlon, due to her versatility on the track and her rugged 5'11" frame.

Henry's track credentials are legendary. His expertise, along with A&M's facilities, will be quite a change from Rochelle's primitive dirt track, and the challenges of competition at the next level will be yet another giant standing in her way.

Not a problem, thinks A&M heptathlete coach Jim VanHootegem,

"She's got size, intelligence, motivation, and she's a ferocious competitor..."

Then, as if to address the giant head-on, he added,

"That's something you can't teach."

Update: On Saturday, June 13, the Texas A&M Aggies won both the men's and women's NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships. The University of Oregon men's and women's teams took runner-up honors.