Every time Sydney McLaughlin toes the line, all eyes are on her. Everyone expects the 15-year-old Union Catholic High School runner to pull off unbelievable times and so far, she has yet to disappoint.
The pressure is there for the sophomore, but her focus has allowed her to push it aside and perform at a high level.
“It definitely is nerve-wracking. I mean, I try to stay calm on the outside, but I think it’s only stressful and difficult if you make it. It’s just a race and whatever happens, happens,” said McLaughlin, the Courier News Girls Indoor Track and Field Athlete of the Year. “As long as you go into it with the mindset of ‘I’m going to do my best’, hopefully it will come out with a great result.”
McLaughlin is no stranger to great results. During the winter track season, the sophomore has perhaps even exceeded the expectations and came away with an outstanding performance at the winter Meet of Champions.
The sophomore won three gold medals in the 400 meter, the 55 hurdles and the 4×400 relay. Her 400 meter time of 53.72 and hurdle time of 7.82 were both meet records and the 4×400 time of 3:50.32 was the second fastest in meet history.
McLaughlin used the experience from last year’s Meet of Champions to help her come away with a historic day.
“It was a hard mindset going right from the 400 to hurdles. I messed that up last year and didn’t make the hurdle final, so I knew this year was kind of like my comeback,” said McLaughlin. “Having a good, calm mindset helped me.”
McLaughlin also ran the third fastest 60 meter hurdles time in the history of U.S. high school with a time of 8.17 and followed that up with a time of 7.60 in the 55 meter at the New Balance National Track and Field Championships.
Both times broke her previous state records and also broke the national sophomore records set by Washington State High School ‘s Dior Hall of Colorado of 8.19 and 7.61 respectively.
Union Catholic track coach Mike McCabe explained that it has been a great experience watching McLaughlin grab all these accomplishments.
“It’s a special thing and it’s fun to watch. It’s a challenge for me as a coach. I have to be at my best so that I can challenge her properly,” said McCabe. “She’s not asking for anything special. She comes in, puts in the work and is just like every other kid, but what she does and the way she competes with that ability is really special.”
McLaughlin never once talks about a time she’s looking to achieve or a number she’s trying to hit. She just wants to get better and beat herself. Oddly enough, that might be her best competition.