Shady Side Academy senior overcomes injuries to cap career with state track gold

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Saturday, June 15, 2024 | 11:01 AM


Chelsea Hartman wanted to run more, but she wasn’t sure if her body would allow it. The Shady Side Academy senior was plagued by chronic pain during her freshman and sophomore seasons.

First, Hartman battled shin splints. Then, she dealt with stress fractures in her feet. But Hartman persisted, winning her first PIAA Class 2A championship last month. She also competed in the New Balance Outdoor Nationals in the 5K and two-mile run.

“Freshman year, I didn’t think this would be in the cards,” Hartman said. “I wasn’t sure if I was going to come back for another year of running. But I fell in love with the sport. I’m still crazy about it.”

Hartman won the 3,200-meter run at the state meet in 10 minutes, 37.32 seconds. She will attend Brown University next season and compete on the track and cross country teams.

“Going into it, I wanted to be confident,” Hartman said. “That’s something I’ve struggled with. I had the feeling that I didn’t have the training I needed to succeed. That’s something my coach has helped foster in me, that I can do what need to do when I need to do it.”

Hartman credits Bulldogs track coach Jeff Perlis for helping her get on track to handle a rigorous workload at the state meet. In addition to the 3,200, Hartman also competed in the 1,600-meter run and as a member of the 3,200 relay.

Hartman also competed in the same three events last season. This year, Hartman placed third in the 1,600 with a time of 5:10.14 and helped the relay team place third with a time of 9:42.35.

“She handled it like a grizzled veteran,” Perlis said. “This is the first season where she had a six or seven-month training plan before states. In the past, she had swimming and injuries that prevented her from doing it. She had a strong indoor season.”

Ella Van Norman, Charlotte Baker and Sarah Kushnir also ran in the relay at the state meet for Shady Side Academy. The Bulldogs also had two alternates to give the team a safety net in case something went wrong. At the WPIAL meet, Shady Side needed an alternate, Sofia Petersson, to step in 10 minutes before the race due to illness.

Rhyley Bendel missed out due to injury, but she will be back next season. Having a competitive group of athletes to train with helped drive Hartman to compete.

“I think this year more than ever, we had a great group of girls to train with,” Hartman said. “There were the four of us running, plus one or two alternates. I don’t feel like I had a team like that before with this type of mentality about racing. Everyone was all in and willing to work for each other. They were all willing to suffer in races when it gets hard.”

Perlis said he laughed at the response to where they finished in the relay. He was happy that his team, which was seeded fifth, finished third.

“This is a goal-oriented group,” Perlis said. “They told me they thought they should have won the race based on how they did in the winter.”

Hartman hopes to carry her intensity for racing to the next level. She was looking forward to the New Balance competition to see where she stacked up against elite competition.

“I have a lot of appreciate and love for the sport,” Hartman said. “I like getting out there and giving everything I have on race day. Whether it’s getting a PR or learning something I could do better, it’s a different feeling knowing I gave everything I could.”

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