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Cascade’s Devin Simon taught herself the hurdles, and taught herself well
A 5-foot-5 four-stepper, Simon counters with power and a ‘bulldog’ mentality to make her one of the top hurdlers in Class 2A
CASCADE — Devin Simon is somewhat of a self-taught hurdler.
And yet, as a four-stepper, unconventional.
She is, in the words of Coach Tim Frake, “a quiet kid.” Then, in the next sentence, “a bulldog.”
OK, then, a quiet bulldog.
She has a softball scholarship awaiting her at the University of Iowa. And yet, track and field is the sport in which she has enjoyed the most success at the high school level.
There’s plenty of irony to wade through here. But this is clear:
“She’s an all-out competitor,” Frake said. “You get her a baton in a relay, and she’ll run you down.”
A senior at Cascade High School, Simon is hoping to meet or surpass the success she attained last year.
She was the Class 2A runner-up in the 400-meter hurdles, fourth in the 100-meter hurdles. She anchored the Cougars’ 2A-champion shuttle hurdle relay unit and their third-place 1,600-meter relay.
“Last year, I competed against some really good hurdlers in 2A,” Simon said. “That really helped.
“I’ve been in a lot of big games in a lot of sports, but nothing compares to state track. It’s such a competitive event.”
Such a competitive event is a perfect backdrop for such a competitive kid.
In addition to softball (an infielder, she hit .500 last year with nine home runs), Simon was a stalwart in Mike Sconsa’s always-competitive basketball program.
“Her biggest attribute is that she’s a bulldog,” Frake said. “She doesn’t like to lose.”
At 5-foot-5, Simon doesn’t have the stereotypical lanky, long-legged build for a hurdler. But she manages. She more than simply manages.
She’s been doing this a while.
“I tried it for fun in junior high, and I realized that I liked it,” she said. “I started watching YouTube videos, and once I got to high school, I started working with Ben Hildebrandt of Small Town Speed.”
Most of the state’s top hurdlers are three-step gliders. Simon has tried it, but it slows her down.
“I’m kind of non-traditional. I can’t three-step well,” she said. “I’m not very tall, so I’m just faster when I four-step. It’s 10 more steps, a challenge I have to take.”
Frake said, “I’ve timed her ... she’s quicker as a four-stepper than three. She just has a small stride length, but it’s so quick. Her form is good.”
So is her mentality.
“She just doesn’t like to lose,” Frake said. “She flat-out wants it. When it’s time to perform, she shows up.”
Simon’s form lends itself better to the 400 hurdles. She was second, in 1:03.69, to Northeast’s Ellie Rickertsen at state last year, and Rickertsen has graduated.
“I’d really love to get a title of my own,” Simon said.
Most 400-meter hurdlers have a love/hate relationship with the event.
“More than anything, it takes guts,” Simon said. “You go around the corner at 300, and it hits you like a wall.”
Simon hits back.
Cascade finished fifth in the Class 2A girls’ team race last year, scoring 33 points.
The Cougars return three-fourths of their championship shuttle team (Simon, senior Brianna Koppes and sophomore Kate Green), and three-fourths of their 4x400 (Simon, senior Grace Rhomberg and sophomore Molly Roling).
If Frake can locate some additional points, Cascade could be in line for a state trophy. Last year’s runner-up, Van Meter might be out of reach, but the Cougars could vie for second or third with teams like Denver, Underwood and Panorama.