MARENGO, Ohio (WCMH) — “I have seven pairs of shoes in my track bag,” said Ohio high school athlete Juliette Laracuente-Huebner.
Counting them off on her fingers, she said, “So I have two flats, high jump spikes, long jump spikes, triple jump spikes, and then practice sprint spikes and then competition sprint spikes.”
It may not be your normal kind of shoe collection, but it helped the Highland High School senior secure a state indoor track and field championship — by herself.
“It was crazy being like, going up against teams that have 15 girls there and I was the only one who was representing Highland, and it was like, ‘Oh well, I just beat them out all by myself,’” she said with a shrug.
In March, at the Ohio Indoor State Championships held by the Ohio Association of Track and Cross Country Coaches, Laracuente-Huebner won four individual titles, which ended up giving her enough points to single-handedly win the Division 2/3 team state title.
“Oh, I was so excited, but I tried to keep it calm because I didn’t want to boast or anything,” she said. “And then I went up on the podium for triple jump, came down, and yelled out to my coach — because all the events were done at that point — ‘I just won the team title!’ He started going crazy. My parents were going crazy. Yeah, it was really sweet.”
Laracuente-Huebner won gold medals in the long jump, high jump, triple jump, and 60-meter hurdles.
One of Laracuente-Huebner’s biggest challenges in the competition was simply getting to all of her events.
“So I was high jumping and long jumping at the same time,” she said. “Literally I would have to rip off my high jump spikes, and then I would have to sprint over to long jump and try to take a few jumps, and then come back. I almost missed my hurdle race!” she exclaimed, almost out of breath rehashing the schedule. “And then I was triple jumping. I think I did like one or two, and then had to go do the hurdle finals. I started about 10 o’clock, and I did not leave the track until about 7:30.”
Laracuente-Huebner’s coach says she’s one of the hardest-working athletes he’s ever seen.
“The most special thing about Juliette is her work ethic,” said Highland high school girls track coach Chip Wendt. “In all my years — and I’ve been here since ’85, ’86 — I’ve never seen any individual in any sport at this level work this hard.”
It’s not only about her times and distances, either. Laracuente-Huebner has to be mentally tough as she navigates from one event to the next – sometimes switching back and forth within seconds.
“I just kind of have to take a deep breath and then be like, ‘Okay, I have to get in this mood,’” she said. “For high jump, I have to be calm and ready and kind of get my anxiety out, and then long jump, I have to just like attack and whatnot. Same with hurdles.”
Now, Laracuente-Huebner hopes that work ethic, success and mental preparation will translate to the outdoor season, where she’s hoping to vie for multiple OHSAA state titles.
“Outdoor, you kind of have to play it by how the weather is,” she said. “You have to be prepared for like, okay if the wind is coming at my face, then I have to move in so many feet, or if it’s on my back, I have to move back so many feet.”
Laracuente-Huebner has committed to continue her track and field career and her education at the University of Cincinnati. She plans to study nursing, but while there, she also wants to become a heptathlete on the track.
However, she dreams of going professional with her track and field talents.
She’s already working on the wardrobe, considering she’s still just like many of us when it comes to footwear frustrations.
“It does create blisters though in all my feet, which is awful! It’s awful.”