Enka runner overcomes hurdles on quest for state

Shawn Hamilton runs during practice (WLOS Staff).jpg

WLOS - Running can be mundane, simply put. Especially running around a track where the scenery never changes, it 's tough to find a way to keep your interest after a couple laps. Shawn Hamilton, a senior distance runner at Enka, has found a home in the oval. "It can be hard sometimes, but it can be fun," he explained. Hamilton has taken on a leadership role in his last year with the Jets. "He has one speed. so when we do our warm ups we try to tell him, back it down, but he's always out in front," laughed his cross country coach, Rich Caisse. "Throughout the course of his career, I've seen him take on a leadership role, where he was always kind of the guy in the background [who] didn't say much."

While there are no literal hurdles in Hamilton's way during races, he's had to overcome one major obstacle. Hamilton was diagnosed with Specific Learning Disorder ( SLD ) when he was a toddler. His mother said they noticed something was wrong when he wasn't hitting traditional milestones, like walking and talking, at the average rate. Due to the disorder, Hamilton is in the Occupational Course of Study program, which according to the school website, "is designed to provide a sound foundation in preparation for adult living for students with disabilities." Track is the perfect outlet for Hamilton, who is as stringent as any when it comes to a coach's instructions thanks to his GPS watch. "It's good because he's monitoring his pace," remarked Caissen, adding, "And then also he has to have everything precise, like 5.0 [miles]. He wants to finish the workout, he wants to do exactly what's on the paper." His teammates marvel at his relentless work ethic, chugging around the football field non-stop without a hint of exhaustion. "There are other kids that are better than me, but I don't care about that," stated Hamilton before a recent run. "I just keep improving so I can be like them."

Following the instructions on paper has served as a map for the senior leader's ultimate quest: qualifying for state. He was five seconds off the necessary time during cross country season and has set his sights on both indoor and outdoor track. "I don't care if I get first or anything, at least I achieved something," he said about the prospects of qualifying for the state meet. "[It] makes me move forward, not leave things behind."

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