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It was an amazing junior season for Anderson’s state champion hurdler Breanna Luba and the future promises even more.

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Breanna Luba: team leader, versatile athlete, state champion (PHOTO)

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The Anderson girls’ track season was nothing short of amazing and there’s one name that is sure to pop up when the squad is mentioned:

Breanna Luba.

Four-time News-Herald champion, four-time Downriver League meet champion, regional champion, four-event state qualifier, state champion, national ranking six school records and 192.75 individual points score – and that was just in her junior year.

It’s safe to say that the junior star gets the attention she deserves and her running days go way back.

Luba says she has a love for running and began on her elementary school’s Run Club, ran cross country in middle school and has been on the track team for five years.

Although Luba participates, and has success in several events, she shines in hurdles.

Most recently Luba became Anderson’s first ever female state meet champion.

She qualified for the D1 state meet in four events and was crowned champion of the 300 hurdles with her finish of 43.91, the fastest time in the state of Michigan.

She also finished third in the 100 hurdles and competed in the 4x100 (Grace Moore, Jamila Ross, Emiesha Burrell) and the 4x400 (Moore, Burrell, Autumn Wilson).

In the News-Hearald Track and Field Championships in May she was champion of the 100 hurdles, 300 hurdles, 4x200 and 4x400, playing a major part in Anderson’s first ever News-Herald team championship.

Weeks later at the Downriver League meet, Luba was number one in the 100 hurdles, 300 hurdles, 200 and 4x400 and was regional champion in the 300 hurdles.

Her times this season were so good, that they qualified her for the New Balance Nationals in Greensboro, North Carolina on June 13-15.

There, Luba finished ninth in the 400 hurdles with a time of 1:02.23 for her first ever national ranking. She is currently ranked 32nd in the nation and No. 1 in Michigan.

Her hurdling career began three years ago and turned out to be more of a challenge than she originally expected.

“When I first began running track, I had an unusual love for the event that most sprinters try to avoid,” she said. “Then I got to high school and hurdles were added to that event, and my love-hate relationship with the 300 meter hurdles was born.

“I strongly dislike the word ‘can’t’ and I don’t really like to give up on things. I later began to understand the technical side to hurdling and it became even harder for me. With that, hurdling has turned in to an obstacle I just have to conquer.”

Becoming Anderson’s first ever female state champion was special to Luba.

“Being Anderson’s first female state champion, being a part of the first team from our school to win News Heralds and Leagues all in one season was nothing less than amazing,” she said. “Also, sharing this success with the lovely teammates I have made it that much more special.”

Luba had a hunch things would be different this season for the Titans.

“I knew at the beginning of the season that something was different,” she said. “Our coaches had begun working us a little bit harder than in previous years, yet we didn’t have as many athletes quit.

“A combination of high expectations from our coaches and athletes who are extremely dedicated and ready to compete pretty much put the odds in our favor.

“So, it didn’t surprise me that we had a good season, but I was not expecting all of the achievements we acquired.”

The importance of Luba’s abilities is not lost on Coach Jennifer Balogh.

“Right out of the gate, Luba knew that she would be running wherever the team needed her and has fully embraced that roll,” Balogh said. “She jumps, sprints, hurdles, runs relays, the 800, and would pole vault or run the two mile if it was going to be the best for the team.

“I never have to ask more than once and she gets it 100 percent, every time. That on its own has a huge influence on the other boys and girls on our team.”

Balogh said with a sport made up of so many individual events, it is easy for runners to forget about the team element.

“Having a kid like Luba who enjoys being maximized in a meet encourages other athletes to do the same,” she said. “I have a team full of girls who now don’t mind getting moved around, sometimes out of their comfort zone, because they know it is what’s needed to achieve our goals.”

Luba is a huge asset to the Titans for many reasons aside from the amount of individual points she puts up in any given meet.

“First of all, she is an extremely hard worker,” Balogh said. “Every practice is 100 percent and she fights to stay with the boys during workouts.

“No complaints, just hard work and sweat. She is a great role model for her teammates, encouraging them to put forth the same hard work and dedication.”

Luba is also the most track-experienced member of the squad and others turn to her for guidance on warms ups, drills and exchange zones.

“She really helps bring out the best in her teammates, which is a huge reason why my girls are on fire right now,” Balogh said. “I have said before that they all love one another, they take care of each other and the team mentality has really made individuals shine.”

Over the years, Luba has tested the waters in various events. As a freshman she gave long jump a whirl and was instantly a consistent 15-foot jumper and had a personal best of 16-feet, 1.5 inches. She jumped a little bit as a sophomore, but after qualifying for states in the 300 hurdles her freshman year, it was clear where her technical event focus needed to be.

Two summers ago, Luba was messing around at decided to take a chance at high jump. On her first time ever trying it she easily cleared 4-6 – barefoot.

“She is the type of kid who would do all 17 events in one meet if the MHSAA would allow it,” Balogh said. “She frequently asks me for wigs to help disguise herself so she can compete more.”

Despite all of her achievements, Luba is still grounded.

“I never really thought about people looking up to me,” she said. “I just see my fellow runners and myself all working together to get better and achieve our goals.”

After a successful junior year, Luba plans to improve by working hard all year to become a stronger athlete, a better sprinter and a more technical hurdler.

Before stepping into the blocks at each meet, Luba says a prayer.

“I ask God to give me the strength to perform to the best of my ability and to watch over me, my teammates and my competitors,” she said. “If I’m running a relay, my teammates and I often join a small four-man huddle and bow our heads as my friend and teammate Grace Moore leads us in prayer.”

Her advice to younger runners is simple.

“Never give up if you love what you are doing,” she said. “I would also tell them to believe in themselves. One of my favorite quotes is by Henry Ford: ‘Whether you think you can or think you can’t, you’re right.’”

Balogh said the Anderson track teams take a different approach to coaching the boys’ and girls’ squads.

“We are a family, and we coach that way,” Balogh said. “Luba isn’t my athlete alone; she has five other coaches that have had a hand in her success.”

Boys’ head Coach Sam Childs works with the 400 runners and has helped Luba in building and honing her speed endurance for the 300 hurdles and 400.

Coaches John Davis, Greg Glitz, Derek McLaughlin and Luke Smith have also all played a role in Luba’s development as an athlete, student and person.

“The rest will fall into place,” Balogh said. “For the coaches, her success this season just means that our formula is working.

“Our team philosophy, goals, and training is all on point.

“It adds confidence to our program moving forward, not only for Luba’s success as a senior and leading into college, but for all of our boys and girls in future seasons.”

Luba knows she owes success to the help of her coaches, and she has many.

Coach Stan Edwards, head coach of Maximum Output Track Club was the foundation for Luba’s sprinting days, Coach Nick Cambell introduced her to hurdling and Coach Johnson of HurdleTech Track Club is her current hurdle coach in Club Track.

At Anderson, Balogh helps keep Luba happy and healthy and Coach Childs works her to death, but makes her stronger.

Coach Glitz always has encouraging words, Coach Smith is always supportive and Coach Mac pumps up the team.

As Luba prepares for her final high school season, she has also turned her attention to a heptathalon which includes the 100 hurdles, high jump, shot put, 200, long jump, javelin and the 800.

This summer the now-senior is working on upper body strength in case she needs to know shot put in the future.

Last Updated: 7/9/2013 11:16:03 AM EST