Confidence carries Babinec to records

Onekama’s Yumi Babinec set school records in the 100- and 300-meter hurdles this season. ( Dylan Savela/News Advocate file photo)

By DYLAN SAVELA
Sports Writer
Competing successfully in hurdles takes a perfect blend of nearly everything track and field is about.
Running. Jumping. Timing. All mixed at a blazingly fast pace to the finish line.
Bear Lake’s Yumi Babinec has proved over the course of her prep career that she has a natural knack for each of these technical components while running for Onekama’s co-op track program. But this season — her senior year — she’s fused a new element to the formula.
“For Yumi, it’s just confidence,” Onekama girls track coach Bonnie Brown said. “She just realized she could give more and she did. I think it just goes to show what she can do when she sets her mind to something. If you put your heart into it great things can happen. And she’s put her heart and soul into this.”
Running. Jumping. Timing. Confidence. The equation has made Babinec a two-time school record holder in both the 100- and 300-meter hurdles this season. And she’s already got her mind set on new heights.
ON A WHIM
Babinec’s road to each record couldn’t have been any more different.
The senior’s history with the 300-meter hurdles has been brief, while she’s been an avid 100-meter hurdler since seventh grade. Her track coaches inserted her in the former event earlier this season, simply on a whim.
“I honestly hadn’t run the 300 since I did a little my sophomore year,” said Babinec. “One meet earlier this year I was like ‘Hmm maybe I’ll try,’ and my very first heat I was two seconds away from the record.”
That was back on April 12 in Onekama’s dual meet against Lake City. It took Babinec less than a month and four meets later to etch her name next to the event in the Onekama school record books, shattering a 26-year-old mark.
“My coaches were like ‘Why did you not do this last year?’” she said with a laugh. “Since then, I was like ‘OK, I guess this will be my race for the rest of the year.’ And from then it was just about going all out.”

Babinec went all out at the Bobcat Invitational in Brethren on May 7, finishing the race in 47.98 which shattered Aimee Fink’s 50 flat which was set in 1985.
“She smoked it,” Brown said. “We put her in the 300 (at Lake City), and told her just to cruise, then she almost broke the record just cruising.
“The thing about Yumi is she’s very coachable,” she added. “She’s a great 400-meter person, and if you’re great at that, you can definitely run 300 hurdles. After she saw she could, we all kind of honed in on improving her time. And I think it’s really been all in her head and her heart.”
NEW MARK AND BEYOND
The 100-meter hurdles has been Babinec’s premier event. In it, she qualified for the Division 4 state finals for the first time last season with a fifth-place finish in her team’s regional.
And on Tuesday night, she made it official. By breaking teammate Jaylee Brown’s record from 2009 (16.25) with a 16.03 in a West Michigan D League jamboree at Mason County Eastern, Babinec’s the premier 100-meter hurdler in the track program’s history.
It just took her until the next morning to realize it.
“I didn’t know about that until (Wednesday) morning,” she said with a laugh. “One of my teachers said ‘Congratulations.’ I just kind of looked at him and said ‘What are you talking about?’ He told me I broke the 100 hurdle record and I was like ‘Oh, well that’s pretty cool.’”
The nice surprise isn’t the cap to her track career by any means, however. Babinec said her sights are set on making it back to the state meet, this time in both hurdle events. She gets her oppurtunity this Saturday at a D4 regional meet in Brethren.
“I’m excited about the records, that’s for sure, but I’m more focused on state. I’d like to get top three in 300 hurdles,” she said. “(To make it to state again) would be amazing. I’d feel pretty accomplished if I could do that because track has been my favorite sport since freshman year. It’d be a really nice way to end my senior year.”
Babinec is the top seed in both events in her region, and she’s depending on the same sort of confidence she’s used all season long.
“I think it’s all in my mind. Once I set my mind to something, like when I said ‘I want to break the 300 hurdle record’ after I saw how close I was, I think I can do it. Now I’ve got my mind set on state.”
In doing so, she’s backed by the same assurance from her coach.
“I don’t know where that confidence came from,” Brown said of Babinec. “But boy am I glad it’s there, because it’s working.”

 

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Posted by Dylan Savela

Dylan is the county reporter for the News Advocate, he also is in charge of the Small Town Life, religion and senior pages. He can be reached at (231) 398-3111 or dsavela@pioneergroup.com.

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