SPRINGFIELD — Megan Hilton entered high school four years ago with muscular determination attached to her spindly runner’s frame.
The Effingham County senior’s powerful will only grew as time passed and helped her land an opportunity to compete for NCAA Division II Emmanuel College beginning this fall.
“Megan is one of the hardest-working, humble people that I have ever met and had the privilege to work with,” Effingham County cross country coach Pam Richards said during a signing ceremony Friday.
Richards warned the audience not to be fooled by Hilton’s slight structure.
“Don’t think she will not run you over on the course,” the coach said with a laugh.
Hilton thinks her desire to succeed is innate
“It’s a mental thing so you really have to want to be good and want to train, and just get the time that you want,” she said. “As I get older, I understand more about what it takes and what it means to work hard. There are difficult times and good times in running but I think the difficult times help me more.”
Richards appreciates Hilton’s tenacity in competition and the classroom.
“She is an amazing athlete and we get to enjoy that you have modeled what it takes to be an outstanding scholar athlete,” the coach said. “You have modeled what it takes to move on to the next level and I cannot wait to see what she does with that biology degree from a major college.”
Hilton, who wants to major in a pre-veterinary program, will compete in cross country and indoor and outdoor track at Emmanuel, which is located in Franklin Springs about 30 miles northeast of Athens.
“It’s going to be fun to compete all the time,” she said. “I’m excited.”
Hilton has posted the seven fastest 800 times in Effingham County history this year. She has qualified in the 800 and mile run in the state sectionals Saturday.
“We are really proud of Megan this year,” Effingham County track coach Mark Smith said. “She set the school record in the 800 at 2:22.
Smith added, “... she has scored 226 points by herself in track meets this year, which is really amazing.”
Hilton said she likes competing in track more than cross country. She said cross country has a special place in her heart, however.
“I love the 800 but I love the team bond with cross country,” she said. “It’s more of a family type of thing.”