Phone calls, texts and emails from past Evanston girls track greats were part of the routine for senior hurdler Remy Amarteifio as she prepared for the final races of her high school career at the Illinois High School Association Class 3A state finals at Eastern Illinois University in Charleston.
And while Amarteifio appreciated the support — and the last-minute words of advice — all that attention from past state champions who wore the Wildkit uniform also provided a bit of pressure, too.
But the 5-foot-1 Amarteifio stood as tall as any of those alums and lived up to Evanston’s legacy of success at State in the hurdles by recording a third place finish in the 100-meter hurdle event Saturday.
Amarteifio’s time of 14.59 seconds trailed only Jayla Stewart of Homewood-Flossmoor (14.01) and last year’s Class 2A champion, Grace Cronin of Fenwick (14.42). She scored Evanston’s only team points after chalking up a personal record in her specialty for the third week in a row during Friday’s preliminary competition with a 14.41 effort.
“I definitely feel like I ended up on a good note,” Amarteifio said. “I realized that I was there for a purpose, and that I had to do my job and get as many points as I could for Evanston. There was a lot of pressure because I know the legacy behind Evanston hurdles. I had a lot of support and it gave me a lot of motivation, too.
“I can definitely appreciate this accomplishment, and I’m so happy my coaches (former state hurdles champ Tameeka McFarlane and Jessie Sibert) stayed with me and gave me the encouragement to never give up. I’ve always loved running and I wanted to prove to people who didn’t believe in me that I could do it. I just kept trying my best — and now no one else here can complain about being too short!”
Amarteifio’s size — or lack of it — didn’t prevent the ETHS coaching staff from pointing her toward the hurdles when she first became a part of the program, and by the time she was an upperclassman she was also a major contributor on various relay teams, too.
Now she’s part of a legacy of success and will be one of the examples used by the coaches for future hopefuls who may not be considered superstars when they first walk onto the ETHS track.
“I know she was really nervous Saturday, because every hurdler we’ve had in the past called her,” said head coach Fenny Gunter. “I thought she handled the pressure well. She carried us the whole year, and after getting that PR on Friday, she was a little behind in the race on Saturday but she really finished strong.
“She really came from nothing and really matured very well over a 4-year period with us. She’s very determined and very committed, and she just kept putting in the work and listening to her coaches. She’s such a hard worker. She wasn’t quick enough in our eyes for the dashes when she first came in but we could see she had the mental capacity to do it in the hurdles.
“And we knew that other programs had success with ‘shorties’ in the hurdles.”
In fact, Gunter and his staff made it a point to obtain videos of international and college standouts of diminuitive stature and showed them to Amarteifio regularly.
“We showed her a French girl from the Atlanta Olympics, one who worked hard and got the opportunity to get up on the podium after she finished third because of her work ethic,” Gunter pointed out. “Height doesn’t have to be an issue in the hurdles if you have enough speed. We felt Remy had the speed that it takes, and we just had to get her technique stronger. Tameeka did a good job of keeping her on schedule.”
“I watched hurdlers like Gail Devers and some others, and that made me feel that I could do it (succeed) against the big girls, too,” Amarteifio added. “I also watched a bunch of tapes of Tameeka and Shalina Clarke. They were a great example for me.”
Source: ETHS Sports Information