Stellar student and standout hurdler

By JENEYLYN RUSSO     9/13/2015

When Ian Ward arrived at Servite High School his freshman year, the runner’s original intentions included being a sprinter for the Friars track team. But the coaching staff had a different plan.

After being persuaded by a friend to run some practice hurdle races, Ward’s raw skills impressed the coaches and he was asked to represent the team as a hurdler.

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“What I enjoy most about [running the hurdles] is probably the competitiveness,” says Ward. “It’s a good feeling when you get over the hurdle. And I just like to run.”

Even without years of experience under his belt, Ward has excelled and finished his sophomore year last season with a strong showing at the Trinity League finals, including a first place finish in the 300-meter intermediate hurdles and a second place finish in the 110-meter high hurdles. His contributions to the varsity team helped the Friars secure a first place overall finish at the meet.

Always looking to improve, Ward leans heavily on his conditioning and making the most of each practice session.

“A lot of the challenges I’ve had with the hurdles, specifically, is the technique,” says the 16-year-old junior. “It takes a long time to get that down. And not only the technique, but it’s the running in between. To overcome it is just a lot of practice.”

It’s his commitment and diligence to improving his technique that Servite’s track and field head coach, Richard Gibbs, believes will contribute to Ward’s future success.

“Ian was a very pleasant surprise this season. He got faster with each race—a lot faster,” says Gibbs. “He has a great work ethic and sense of team. He will be a team leader this coming year if by nothing else but his dedication. His teammates will be saying that they need to work as hard as Ian.”

The Santa Ana resident also plays soccer for the Friars and sees several similarities in the competitiveness and conditioning required for the two sports. Ward also takes lessons learned from both the field and the track.

“You take everything you’ve learned and you do your absolute best,” says Ward. “That’s what helps me be a better person.”

Ward would enjoy the opportunity to compete in either track or soccer at the collegiate level. But before he looks too far ahead, the talented runner is focused on his years at Servite, how he can improve and how he can best serve his campus.

“I think representing the Friars as a student athlete, the best thing is representing all my friends at school—my brothers—representing my family and most importantly, my Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ,” says Ward. “He gave us this life, and I think representing everyone I know, especially him, it’s a special feeling to know I’m doing great things for others.”