As a youth and even into high school, Harper played soccer on every competitive level you could think of since she was four years old. Last year, one day came when her love and passion for the sport dwindled and eventually faded altogether. Fortunately, for her she found a replacement to fill the void of time and the desire to compete that came with the soccer world.
One of many special gifts that the sport of cross country instills in its participants is the friendly character and openness to add to the family. That's exactly what the girls on the Plano West cross country team possess. Without jealousy or worry that she might take their place, they extended the hand of fellowship. They saw Harper playing soccer and told her she should come out for cross country. Not really being sure it would be for her, Harper gave it a try. The new sport of cross country eventually ended up replacing her time, effort, and eventually the passion she once had for soccer.
Two weeks into last season, Harper joined the team. Splitting time between both soccer and running, she ran 22 minutes and 11 seconds in her first 5,000m race and eventually dropped two minutes by season's end, capping out at 20 minutes and three seconds for her personal record.
"be open minded and be like, hey this might lead me somewhere, because you never really know."
Haley Harper, Plano West senior
With the 2022 cross country season approaching and with one season of cross country and track and field under her belt, Harper decided to leave soccer altogether and focus on running. She used the drive, commitment, and approach to training she had towards her former sport to her current focus. That preparation has already catapulted the once 22 minute runner to astronomical gains just one year after picking it up.
In her first 5,000m race of the season, she ran 17:43 for a seventh place finish in the Elite division of the Southlake Carroll XC Invite. Three 5,000m competitions into the year, Harper has an average time of 17:49, which is a world away from where she both began and finished her first season.
In just one year, she went from ending one chapter of her life at a sport in which she had dedicated so many years of practice and competition to accepting an invitation that has turned into a new world of relationships and opportunities. Harper and the Plano West girls have a renewed dedication and set of goals. Personally, she is now a Division 1 recruit just as she hoped to be when she entered high school. However, it's in a sport in which she had no idea she would ever or could ever do.
Harper's advice to people of not being afraid to try something different or making a change in your life, is to "be open minded, and be like hey this might lead me somewhere, because you never really know."
Haley Harper High School
|800 Meter Run||2:30.24|
|1600 Meter Run||5:19.88|
|3200 Meter Run||12:02.55|
|One Mile Run||5:41.80|
|Two Mile Run||11:41.80|
|5000 Meter Run||17:41.40|