Published July 17. 2014 4:00AM
Chenoa Sebastian had no intention of trying out for the track and field team when she entered high school.
Her friend convinced her to give it a shot.
Good thing she followed the advice.
Sebastian developed into an all-state hurdler at Ledyard High, multiple school record-holder and received a track scholarship to attend St. John's University in Queens, N.Y.
Sebastian was selected The Day's 2014 All-Area Girls' Track & Field Athlete of the Year.
She never thought the sport would become such an important part of her life.
"I couldn't imagine not doing it," Sebastian said. "It's just something fun to do. I can't even believe that it went this far."
This fall, she'll trade her sleepy hometown of North Stonington for the city that never sleeps in New York. She's ready for a challenge of living in a new area and competing for a Division I program.
"I'm really excited," Sebastian said.
After considering several colleges, she decided to check out St. John's. She reached out to track coach Jim Hurt and set up a meeting. Hurt watched some videos of Sebastian's meets and attended the State Open on June 9 at Middletown High School.
Sebastian delivered a championship performance, winning the 100 hurdles in 14.73 seconds.
As the top seed, she had to deal with extra pressure as well as a tough field.
"It was my best race, so I was happy," Sebastian said.
She fell just short of accomplishing all of her goals, placing second in the New England Championships, but broke her own school record at that meet in 14.61 seconds.
During her superb senior year, she also won the Class MM 100 hurdles title in 14.66 seconds and placed third in the long jump. She also was named The Day's All-Area Indoor Track and Field Athlete of the Year after winning the 55 meter hurdles in the State Open.
"I think it went well," Sebastian said of her senior year. "I was proud of myself. It ended how I wanted. ... It definitely shows my hard work paid off."
Now Sebastian is preparing for the next stage in her life.
She won't be doing it all alone. Two of her five siblings - sisters, 22-year-old Sherelle and Shianne, 23 - live in Manhattan. So it's a safe bet that they'll be there for her whenever needed.
"It's going to be a big change but I think I'll like it a lot," Sebastian said. "I've visited my sisters a lot. I can definitely think of myself living there."
She plans to be an education major.
"I like to work with kids and my mom was a teacher," Sebastian said. "It was just something I always wanted to do when I was little."
While her friend that convinced her to run track in high school eventually dropped the sport, there's no end in sight for Sebastian.
"I just want to just keep on getting better," Sebastian said. "I don't have any goals. It's a complete different ball game. I'm nervous and excited."