Wilkens Makes Great Debut as a Freshman
It didn’t take long Ceci Wilkens to make her mark with the Valley Regional girls’ outdoor track team as a freshman. With her talents and dedication, Ceci performed more like a veteran with a plethora of experience than someone who was just getting acclimated to a new program.
Ceci worked hard to have a successful debut season with the Warriors this spring. Ceci’s journey through different events led her to becoming an integral member of the hurdles lineup for Valley.
Ceci’s love for competing in track and field began in elementary school. Her parents enrolled her in various camps that got Ceci outside and kept her active. Ceci’s mother wanted her daughter to follow in her footsteps as a high school track athlete.
Ceci didn’t think too much of the sport when she first started, but it was an enjoyable enough of an experience for her to circle back at Valley Regional after taking a break during middle school.
“My mom did track in high school, and she loved it. Ever since I was young, she encouraged me to do track,” says Ceci. “I was almost not going to do track this year, but my parents strongly encouraged me because of how much I enjoyed it in elementary school.”
Ceci wasn’t sure what events she was going to compete when she joined the outdoor track program at Valley. After starting off as a high jumper, Ceci also made her way into the hurdles lineup as the season unfolded. Ceci’s coaches encouraged her to run the 300 hurdles and, despite some initial hesitancy, Ceci stuck with it and turned in some impressive performances.
“Ceci has this attack mentality right from the gun. She is fearless when she runs, and it shows,” Valley hurdles coach Jake Bocian says. “Ceci worked hard all season and, every meet, her times dropped.”
Ceci’s introduction into the Valley track program was a unique transition. After stepping into the spotlight as a key cog of the hurdling corps, Ceci performed well with the support of her new teammates and the relationships they created.
“I love getting to know new people and really improve on my skills, because I went into the season not really knowing what sort of events I wanted to do or where I would do well in,” says Ceci. “I didn’t really know anybody on the team. I think making the new friendships was a very positive experience, especially with the upperclassmen, as well.”
Beyond forming bonds with her fellow Warriors, Ceci also feels thankful for how Valley’s coaching staff helped her this season. Valley’s coaches supported Ceci every step of the way as she continually improved and made critical adjustments during her first campaign.
“I definitely made a lot of improvements that I needed to make. The coaches helped me a lot to work on form and stuff that I didn’t even know I needed to work on,” Ceci says. “I didn’t even know there was form for running, and they definitely helped me improve a lot on that.”
Ceci’s progression as a first-year track athlete was impressive as she competed in the high jump and the 300 hurdles. Ceci’s efforts led to an outstanding showing at the Shoreline Conference Championship, where she finished in fourth place for the 300 hurdles by running a personal-best time of 52.45 seconds.
Ceci went on to run the 300 hurdles at the Class M State Championship, finishing in 23rd place with a time of 55.27. Ceci got slowed down a bit when she fell on the final hurdle of the event. However, Ceci took that setback in stride, brushed it off with a laugh, and still felt extremely grateful to participating in postseason meets a freshman.
“I was lucky enough to go against some of the best people in our state,” says Ceci. “I think because of that I ended up doing better, because I was going up against people much faster than me.”
Any freshman athlete stands to learn a good amount of tips and tactics that will benefit them during their first season with a new team. That was no different for Ceci as she contributed both on the track and in the field for the Warriors this year.
“I definitely learned that training pays off. If you’re at practices, constantly hard working, you will notice a difference in your times,” Ceci says. “In hurdles, the form can be a bit nerve-wracking at first and a bit much you need to focus on. If you keep working at it, you’re able to get it.”
Ceci’s first season proved an incredible start for a promising athlete in the Valley Regional track program. Ceci discovered her strengths and enjoyed contributing for the team in her freshman year.
Above all, Ceci believes that her competitive mindset and drive to get better puts her in a great position to be a key member of the Warriors throughout her time at the high school.
“I’m very competitive, and I really enjoy doing races and going against people,” says Ceci. “I’m motivated by trying to win or trying to be the best as I can.”