When Sterlin Broomfield runs, his thoughts exit his mind.
The Southeast distance runner didn’t want to do much thinking when his mother died last year from a brain aneurysm. He tried to remain strong, but knew his thoughts would betray him. So he ran.
He ran in the morning. He ran at practice in the afternoon. Then he went home and ran some more.
“It helps me with my problems,” said Broomfield, a senior. “I just want to make her proud of me. I know she wouldn’t want me to be worried or stop working, so I just kept running to make her proud of me.”
Entering his last cross country season, Broomfield blossomed and qualified for his first state meet, finishing in 39th place. This spring he is primed to qualify in his specialty event, the 3,200-meter race, which he will run on Friday at the season-opening Southeast Invitational.
All of his work is now done in remembrance of his mother.
“This is my last year to run in high school,” Broomfield said. “I just want to leave with a good impression and be a motivation to my teammates. Hopefully I can get to state. I think she would be proud of that.”
After the death of his mother, Broomfield only took off two track practices last season. He returned to practice as an inspiration to teammates and coaches.
“The only thing you can say is inspiring,” Southeast coach Mark Lamb said. “It shows you much how much he loves running. I think that’s what helped carry him through it. It was inspiring to see for everyone around him.”
Broomfield doesn’t have an ideal body for a runner. He’s short and his legs can’t replicate the sweeping strides of some of his competitors. But his advantage comes from within.
“He may not be the biggest kid, but he has the biggest heart,” Southeast distance coach Andrew Cherry said. “I think he is one of the top character guys that we have at Southeast. He’s a great leader. He leads by example and he’s one of the hardest-working kids on the team.”
As a result, Broomfield has secured a scholarship to run at Cowley College next season. He knows his mother would be proud.
But he still has to keep running.
“When I run, it clears the stuff out of my head and helps me focus,” Broomfield said. “I want to do my best to make her proud.”