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Seaford Runner Earns National Recognition in Essay Contest

Running and writing are two passions for Seaford High School senior Sarah Keane, and by combining those interests, she earned national recognition in a contest hosted by one of her favorite athletes.

Sarah, a member of Seaford’s cross country and track teams who has been named to several All-Conference and All-County teams, is a big fan of American Olympic runner Brenda Martinez. This summer, Martinez hosted an essay contest with no specific writing prompt other than asking participants to share who they are and what they stand for. Sarah decided to write about the person who inspires her as a runner, her grandmother.

Her grandmother grew up in Ireland during World War II and took an interest in running. She won several races and used prize money to finance her emigration to the United States at 18.

Sarah’s essay recounting her grandmother’s story and its impact on future generations earned Sarah one of the top 5 spots in the contest. The winners were announced on Martinez’s Instagram page in August. Martinez also called Sarah’s house and spoke to her personally. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the usual prize, an all-expenses paid trip to Martinez’s camp in California could not be offered, but instead Sarah and the other winners will participate in Zoom workouts with Martinez. She will also receive gear from Martinez’s sponsor, New Balance.

“It was very nice to be recognized,” Sarah said. “I couldn’t believe it was real, talking to someone famous and one of my idols. To hear that she liked my story, it meant a lot.”

When Sarah was in elementary school, she ran track through the Police Activities League. In middle school, she added lacrosse to her athletic repertoire but eventually decided to devote herself to running year round. Sarah is a long distance runner who typically competes in 1,500- and 3,000-meter races in track and 4K and 5K races in cross country. She is a two-time qualifier for state championships.

Sarah said the essay took her two days to write, and said her experience writing college essays and taking several writing-intensive courses, such as Advanced Placement Seminar and Research and the science research program has helped her strengthen her skills. She is the president of Seaford High School’s Best Buddies program and outside of school has helped organize a track program for adults and children with intellectual and physical disabilities, Shooting Stars.