Sports | Track

Hale Hits Ground Sprinting

It took only two meets for Sharay Hale to make her mark on the Columbia record books.
Hale had already announced herself as a force to be reckoned with in her first-ever collegiate race. At the Yale Tri-Meet between Columbia, Dartmouth, and Yale on Jan. 18, Hale earned herself and the Lions a win by placing first in the final round of the 400-meter dash with a time of 56.43 seconds. She beat out 11 competitors to clinch first, including Yale junior Claudia Duncan by over a second. It was a good start for Hale, but she soon eclipsed it by tying the school record for the 200-meter dash the very next week, finishing in a time of 24.80 seconds at the Albany Great Dane Classic.
The early success shouldn’t come as a surprise. Ever since her time at Riverside University High School in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Hale has showed a strong interest and passion for both running and academics.
Hale’s hard work paid off as she was named to the state-championship track team in 2005 and placed first in the 400-meter dash at the Wisconsin State meet in 2008. Though track played a prominent role in her daily high school life—she went on a track “diet” by balancing nutritional eating with rigorous training and always pushed herself to keep improving—Hale still took her schoolwork very seriously.
“I definitely focused more on academics [than track] because I knew I had to be as prepared and equipped as possible coming into Columbia,” Hale said in an e-mail.
When it came time to apply to colleges, the decision seemed obvious.
“I chose to come to Columbia because I knew that I could not pass up the opportunity to come to such a prestigious university,” she said. “Affable professors, a quality education, and caring coaches and teammates is what Columbia had to offer and I gladly accepted.”
Nevertheless, the transition from a high school senior to a freshman in college was not seamless.
“It was difficult at first because I had to change my studying habits, but I really did not care too much for Milwaukee, so I was very happy to leave,” Hale said. “I am originally from Detroit. That is home to me, and I would say that New York has become my home away from home. The only thing missing is my mom.”
Hale’s success on the track may have some people questioning how she manages a demanding practice schedule and classes. Hale, however, doesn’t find the task to be very daunting.
“It is not as hard as it may seem actually,” Hale said. “I feel that track makes me want to work harder.”
The freshman maintained her momentum from her first two meets at the Metropolitan Championships on January 29th. Hale, alongside senior Marissa Smith, freshman Kyra Caldwell, and sophomore Laura Vogel, competed in a 4x400 meter relay that finished second with an excellent time of 3:49.84, earning Columbia eight points. Though Seton Hall beat the girls with a time of 3:46.28, the Lions broke the team’s previous record in the event by six hundredths of a second.
Based on her success so far, it seems apparent that Hale’s confidence would be unwavering. The reality is quite the contrary.
“When I enter a meet, I am a nervous wreck, even before those meets that I know I am going to win,” Hale said. “But as soon as the gun goes off I am free from all thoughts, worries, and obligations, I feel relaxed and at total bliss.”
Most recently, Hale accomplished quite possibly her most impressive feat thus far this season. She once again competed in the 400 and obliterated her previous record with a time of 54.66 seconds in the preliminaries. Hale’s achievement broke Erika Moses’ record from last season (55.14) and stands as the quickest time recorded in the event in the Ivy League this season.
As for the years to come, Hale has high hopes in terms of what role she would like to play on the team in the future.
“I plan on being a great captain on the team one day and a mentor to young kids around the city who just need a positive role model and a friend through a mentoring program,” Hale said.
While she is uncertain about plans for after she graduates, Hale is certain that track will always be with her.
“I am not sure what career path I want to take yet, but I know that I want to help people,” she said. “Whether it is in the medical field or psychologically, I am not quite sure, just as long as I can change someone’s life. One thing I know for sure is that track will always be a part of my life, even after Columbia. It is my ultimate passion.”


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