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B-A Runner is Going the Distance

Bellwood-Antis senior Ellen Crook is one of USA Today's top 100 most inspirational high school athletes. Find out why in this story.
UPDATE: Ellen Crook made it through to the second round of voting.  You can vote for her in the semifinal round here.

BELLWOOD, BLAIR COUNTY - Bellwood Antis senior Ellen Crook has been named one of the nation's top 100 “most inspirational” high school athletes by USA Today.
 
Over her athletic career the Blue Devil has battled through a torn ACL, a torn meniscus and 5 concussions.  Because of her injuries, she has a new passion – distance running.
 
Her success, though, came with a cost.  She had to give up two sports she loved – basketball and soccer – to avoid doing any more damage to her brain.
 
"I was getting headaches constantly,” says Crook, of her life after her fifth concussion last year.  “I just knew it was time to hang up the contact sports.  It was hard, [giving up the sports].  It was really hard, because I've been playing them since I can remember.  [Since I was] 5 or 6.  I played soccer and started basketball young and I just always knew that's what I wanted to do."
 
To keep her busy this fall, Crook turned to cross country.  She was given a nudge into the sport by her track coach, Julia Roseborough.
 
"[Ellen] has drive and determination,” says Roseborough. “She loves sports and she had pretty well run out of options.  A lot of kids would have just quit.  I suggested maybe cross country would be a way for her to get out and compete, and obviously she had a lot of success.
 
Crook made it to the state cross country meet, in just her first season, placing in the top 50.  Now, this track season, she's already broken the Bellwood-Antis school record in the two mile, twice.  All of her success has earned her a scholarship to be a distance runner at Pitt.
 
"If someone told me my freshman year I'd be running in college, or I wouldn't be playing soccer or basketball, I’d say they're crazy,” says Crook.  “But now, looking back on all the people that have seen what I've been through and think ‘it's awesome’, it's so worth it."

If Crook is selected as the winner of the USA Today "most inspirational" contest, she will have a feature article written about her, a trophy presented to her at school, and Bellwood-Antis will receive a $1000 donation.  The first round of the USA Today voting ends on Monday, March 31st, where the field will be cut to 35 semifinalists. 

To vote for Crook, click here.
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