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Utah's Shapard prepares for Nationals



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Salt Lake City - Chelsea Shapard is off to the races. For the 3rd straight year, She qualified for the NCAA championships in the 400 meter hurdles.

"I'm really excited," Shapard said. "It's been a great senior year, no complaints."

What's so ironic about Chelsea's success in track was in high school she hated it. What she really loved was soccer and skiing.

"Oh no, I hated track" she said. "I thought it was the stupidest sport and didn't understand why someone wanted to run around in circles."

"It grows on you. I was the same way she was and she does love track now, she still loves to ski, but it's been fun to see her grow into the sport.

Running was ridiculous i quit my sophomore year in high school cause i thought it was so silly to do something like that.

But Chelsea didn't think it was so silly when the thought of a scholarship became possible. Chelsea said she was getting only small offers in soccer and skiing.

"I wasn't even looking at it like it's track. It'll pay for college. There was no passion, no anything.

Shapard earned a scholarship to Weber State where she set the school's freshman record in the 400-meter hurdles. But she transferred to Utah after just one year. It was there she met coach Burk Bockman.

"Burk Bockman is a phenomenal coach and he made me grow this immense passion for track and just absolutely love it."

Thanks to that passion, Chelsea has won the Mountain West Conference Championship in the 400 meter hurdles the last three seasons, and has improved her time at nationals each year. The 22 year old park city resident finished 18th in 2007. Last year, 15th. Next week?

"I'm hoping for top 8, top 9 because if I can get there I can be an all-american and I'd love to reach all-american status and that would also hopefully put me in a bid to make the USA championships which are 2 weeks after nationals so that's the ultimate goal."

The ultimate goal for this year, but down the road?

"I'd love to make the 2012 olympics. For any athlete that's the ultimate goal. I Would need a sponsor or even just a name on a t-shirt. Anyone out there listening, Chelsea needs money...Yes...Me!"

Whatever happens in Chelsea's career would really be icing on the cake. After all, track used to be an after-thought. But not anymore.

"The big guy up there obviously blessed me with the ability to run fast it just took me a while to accept that fact."

Kathy Aiken Sports Reporter

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