The goal for Catholic Central freshman Addie Engel was always to be a well-rounded athlete. That’s something she picked up at home. Specialization may work for some families, but Kurt and Tracy Engel wanted their three girls to compete in multiple sports.
Addie played soccer and ran cross country in the fall, swam in the winter and has been a workhorse on the track team. Her twin, Bridget, is just as active athletically with the Irish, and older sister Ragen had a successful career at Central and now swims for the University of Akron.
“You see a lot of kids at a very young age solely focused on one sport and we kind of encouraged them to have some diversity,” Tracy said. “I think it kind of helps eliminate some injuries and it exposes them to different friend groups and social situations. They enjoy it and they excel.”
Ragen is a top college swimmer, having been invited to compete in the Olympic Trials. That also might be Bridget’s best sport, having finished seventh in the state in the 100-yard breaststroke this year.
But Addie has done something that likely never has been accomplished at Central: qualifying for state in three sports in the same school year.
She finished eighth in Division II state cross country — the best finish among all area runners — and followed that with an 18th-place finish in the D-III 100 breaststroke.
On Saturday, she’ll race in the 1600- and 3200-meter runs in the D-III track championships at Ohio Stadium.
Track coach Mike McKenna isn’t sure if Engel is the first at Central to pull off that state trifecta. After all, the school opened in 1929. But he did say, “I’m sure she’s the first freshman to do it.”
Though Engel is lean and petite and has an unassuming nature, McKenna said: “She’s highly competitive. She’s real quiet, but she hates to lose.”
That was evident midway through the track season when Engel tried the 3200 for the first time at the Graham Invitational.
“She smoked everybody. She won by two laps,” McKenna said. The distance came so easily to her that she wasn’t winded afterward.
“They had a water station by the goal post in the middle of the field. She went running over to that and grabbed a couple cups of water,” McKenna said. “I was like, ‘What are you doing?’ She said, ‘The other girls need water.’ She was running back and forth, giving the girls water as they finished. Now, she does that every time.”
Named the Ohio Heritage Conference track athlete of the year, Engel wasn’t tested in the 3200 or 1600 until the regional. She finished third in each event but ran her best times.
Her 5:09 in the 1600 was five seconds better than her previous personal record, and her 11:31 in the 3200 knocked 15 seconds off her PR. She fell short in her bid to also qualify in the 800, but that was fine with her.
“I was kind of hoping I would only end up doing two at state anyways,” she said. “It’s kind of tough with the 800 and 3200 because they’re so close together.”
She may have to prepare for a bigger workload at the state in the future. She’s part of a 4×800 relay with two other freshmen and a sophomore that qualified for the regional.
“She’s fun to watch,” McKenna said. “She’s such a great representative of our school. As good as she is in track and cross country and swimming, she’s an even nicer person.”
Though she doesn’t have much down time during the school year, Engel would never consider lightening her load.
“It really helps if you enjoy what you’re doing. It makes it more interesting and more determined to do it,” she said. “I like all the sports I do. We have really great teams and coaches and it’s a lot of fun to be around all the positive influences.”