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No hurdles big enough for Gaston

April 24, 2001|By ERIC GALVAN, Sports Writer

While the Imperial High School girls track and field team has muddled through mediocrity this year, one of its few shining stars has been 16-year-old junior Melissa Gaston.

Gaston has consistently finished ahead of her competition and has proven to be one of the better hurdlers in the Imperial Valley.

Even when she's not at the top of her game, Gaston's ability has been enough to pull her past her competition, as was the case in Imperial's meet at La Jolla.

Because La Jolla didn't field competition as tough as she's seen, Gaston took it down a notch and put everything in cruise control. And she still picked up three wins as the Tigers won 68-47.

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She won the 100 meter hurdles in 19.8 seconds, the 300 hurdles in 58.1 and the 400 in 1 minute, 9.3 seconds. All those times were good enough to pick up wins, but for Gaston the times still weren't good enough.

"I did pretty good, but my times weren't as good as they could have been. If the competition was a little better, I think my times would have been too," said Gaston. "In something like that, where there's really nobody pushing me or nobody for me to chase, I'm my own biggest competition."

"She's really a self-motivator, a self-starter," said Imperial coach Wolfgang Horner. "Melissa knows what she needs to do and does it. You don't need to tell her. And that attitude is something you always look for in athletes. It's enjoyable working with an athlete like Melissa. She makes my job a lot easier."

Gaston makes the jobs of the Tiger coaching staff easier and makes things easier on her teammates. When an athlete is needed to compete in an event, Gaston will step up and help her team any way possible.

That attitude comes from the philosophy she brings to the track. She doesn't let anything get to her or get her down.

"I don't think you should get down on yourself because there's always going to be someone else a little better than you, which should make you try even harder," said Gaston. "There's some people who complain and throw fits when they lose. I'm not like that.

"You can't have a big head and build yourself up before a race or an event, because if you lose, you just built yourself up for a letdown. Having the opposite attitude is what pushes you and makes you win."

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