Emma Cavendish loves to run, and she indulged her passion often as a child.
From triathlons to road races and even swim meets, the Dwyer sophomore was always on the go.
“I love triathlons and cross-country running,” said Cavendish, a highly decorated youth athlete who raced in her first national championship event at age 8. “I’ve done them since I was small, and dedicated so much time to them.”
But a growth spurt at age 11 caused pain in her heels, and then pain in her knees the following year.
Cavendish was forced to cut back, and later halt, her competitive running career.
“When I grew a lot at age 11, I got some growth plate injuries,” Cavendish said. “It was really hard.”
Cavendish hung up her running shoes, but not her swim goggles or her bicycle.
A longtime competitive swimmer, Cavendish continued to excel in the sport following her leave from the track. Mostly a freestyler and butterfly specialist, she turned in strong results and won a district championship in the 500-meter freestyle for Dwyer last fall.
Also a standout cyclist who competes in time trial events and road races, she took part in a national championship race in Louisville last summer and placed third in the time trial and fourth in the road race.
“It was an easy transition into swimming and road cycling, because I was already on a swim team from when I was 7, and I was cycling for triathlons,” said Cavendish, who’s now 15. “Not competing in running races was hard, because I love to run and those were always my favorite races.”
They’re quickly becoming her favorites again.
Her growing having slowed, Cavendish is back on the track.
She joined the Panthers’ track team this spring, and has excelled despite her long absence from competition.
Cavendish, who competes in the 1,600-meters (mile) and 3,200-meters (two-mile) events, won both at the North Conference Championships two weeks ago, breaking school records in both.
Last week at the Palm Beach County meet, she placed second in the two-mile event and third in the mile, and once again broke her own school records. She competes Friday in the district meet.
“I hadn’t run a timed mile until my first track meet partway through the season, and I was really happy with the time I was able to put in,” she said. “I’m happy with the times I’ve gotten so far, but want to get faster.”
Cavendish admits there’s room for improvement. It’s taken her some time to get back into running shape, but she’s pleased where she is right now.
“In one way it is not hard to get back, because swimming and cycling are good for endurance,” she said. “The hard part is trying to not do too much too early. I cannot run as many miles as the team does yet, because I have to gradually increase my distance. My time away from running has made me appreciate it even more, so it keeps me motivated.”