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Imagine Patterson sets sights on spectacular finish

Summerville - Imagine being the best senior prep hurdler in the state of South Carolina.

Imagine having already secured a track scholarship to Virginia Tech before your senior season.

Imagine being one of the most well-liked students in your high school and being voted Homecoming Queen.

Imagine this athlete’s first name is….Imagine.

Yes, the top hurdler in the Palmetto State is Summerville High elite athlete Imagine Patterson and she is doing everything she can to make her senior year as a high school student/athlete the best yet.

She got her name in part because her mother was a John Lennon fan. And, it’s a name she is happy to have as her name.

“I love it,” Patterson said. “It’s different I guess but I really have never thought much about it because it has always been my name.”

Patterson is five weeks from her attempt at claiming a third consecutive state championship in her best event – the 400 meter hurdles. As a sophomore, she set the state record in the event with a time of 60.46 seconds. She posted a time of 60.75 in winning last year, while also claiming gold in the 100 meter hurdles. In addition to repeating as champion, Patterson’s goal is to finish the state championship race in under a minute. Her personal best is 59.16 seconds at the junior Olympics in 2016.

“Sub 60 is my goal at state,” she says. “If I could break my PR and the state record on the same day, that would be a great way to end my high school career.”

In an effort to help her finish her career on the best possible note, Patterson has taken to running the 800 meter run in meets this year.

“It has made me a lot stronger,” she said. “It’s definitely helping me but its also been a fun event to compete in. I feel like I am on a good pace. The focus is just getting better every week.”

Her potential and performance made Patterson a coveted college prospect. She chose Virginia Tech in the end, turning down offers from Louisville, Mississippi State and South Carolina.

“Virginia Tech just felt perfect for me,” Patterson said. “I got a great feeling about the coaching staff and everything felt genuine. To me, they made me feel that track was not the most important but they talked a lot about education and making me a better person. They want me to be the best athlete, best student and best person I can be.”

Patterson moved to Summerville in 2009, as a fourth-grader, but considers herself a Summerville lifer. She grew up as a budding soccer star but took to track in the sixth-grade and never looked back. She admits if she were not running track, she would be playing soccer. Her dream, however, was to play volleyball.

“I got cut in the ninth-grade and they asked if I wanted to be a manager,” Patterson jokes. “I really love volleyball. I love the action and the intensity. I attended a lot of matches over the years. I just wasn’t good enough. It was disappointing but it also was maybe a sign that I should focus my energy on track. It’s worked out okay.”

As well-known and respected as she is for her track success, Patterson is really a typical high school student trying to make the most of her senior year. She set a goal to try to attend at least two home events in every sport during her senior year. She enjoys watching her classmates compete.

“You know, all of us athletes are working as hard as we can to compete and I want my classmates to know I support them,” said Patterson, who could be seen cheering wildly in the student section at home basketball games this past winter. “You know, things like tennis where the only people there watching are parents. I love supporting the entire school. These are my friends and I want them to know I support their hard work.”

Making the most of her senior year, as a student, is her ultimate goal. She says being selected Homecoming Queen during the football season is one of the highlights of her life. While competing and focusing on track, she also is prepping for the senior prom, which takes place next week.

“I have my dress but don’t have my shoes or even my tickets yet,” Patterson says with a sense of stress. “It’s crazy right now. We don’t know where we are eating dinner yet. There’s so much to do. I’m psyched for the prom though. I hope to be voted prom queen. That would be really cool. Getting Homecoming queen and prom queen, winning another state championship, that would make this a great senior year.”

Summerville head track coach Kevin Bellush says Patterson will never be accused of not enjoying life – on and off the track.

“Some athletes at the elite level, they forget to enjoy themselves,” Bellush said. “Imagine’s personality is very out-going and she likes having fun. She enjoys high school and it’s really good to see that she isn’t so wrapped up in just track. She works hard though. When it’s time to work, she does what she needs to do. But she also enjoys just begin a regular kid and being a part of the total high school experience. That’s fun to see.”

Like any typical teenaged girl, she gets her nails (fingers and toes) done every two weeks. Until recently, she was working two part-time jobs but has cut back to just one, at Dicks Sporting Goods.

Another role Patterson takes great pride and joy in is serving as a team leader for the younger athletes in the Summerville program. She is never far from teammates, offering advice and encouragement when needed.

“I love helping and being there for my teammates,” she said. “In my mind, we’re the same. I just try to push them and let know that if they work really hard, they can be great. I enjoy that role as a leader. I’ve never considered myself any better than anyone else. I want us all to win and to be the best we can be and if I can say something to a teammate to push them, I’m all for it. I’m such a people person. I want to be around my teammates and I love them. They know that I will always have their back.”

Bellush sees great leadership skills in Patterson.

“She actively embraces her role as a leader,” the coach said. “She has earned the respect of her peers and she’s always helping anyway she can. She loves being out here and she loves her teammates. She’s leads and everyone follows because they respect what she has accomplished.

“It’s great to sit back and watch her perform. Athletes of her level don’t come around too often so as a coach, I want to take it in. I want to see her excel and win.”

Work, practice, prom preparations and honing in on another state championship is keeping Patterson busy. She wouldn’t have it any other way. A teenager embracing all aspects of life as it comes. Few successfully can find that balance but Summerville’s best track and field athlete finds a way.

Imagine that.

 


© 2017 High School Sports Report

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