Jill MacEachen goes out on top

Friday, June 19 2009 - Panther Prowl


Scott Mitchell

Senior Reporter


If it wasn’t for nine provincial gold medals and two silvers, you might not even know Jill MacEachen was around.

The shy and humble 18-year-old is one of the biggest track and field stars in the province, breaking the 80-metre hurdle record in Grade 10 and the long jump record in Grade 11. But she would never tell you that.

Noticing the George McDougall student isn’t something she normally wants, but amassing provincial titles and breaking records isn’t something one can do quietly.

Over the weekend in the rain and bitter cold at the Provincial High School Championships, MacEachen was at it again, winning gold in the long jump, triple jump and 80 metre hurdles for the third year in a row.

“It was cold, but it was fun,” she said in typical low-key fashion.

She finished a close second in the 100 metre final, just missing the coveted quadruple gold weekend in the rain.

“(The rain) can make you slower but sometimes its better than when it’s really hot,” MacEachen said. “Some people like it better when it’s hot, but I’d rather run in the cold. But it was too cold this weekend.”

It wasn’t as easy as it sounds for MacEachen at the two-day event at Glenmore Athletic Park in Calgary. She won the triple jump and long jump on her second last jumps and had to overcome a couple of early mistakes in the hurdles just to make it to the final.


What everyone witnessed over the weekend was exactly what Eastern Illinois is hoping for in the future and it is the reason why they handed her a full-ride to the NCAA Div. I school this fall to run hurdles and long jump for the Panthers.

“I wasn’t planning on going to the States,” MacEachen said. “I just wanted to stay in Canada, but my coaches told me to take the SAT’s and see what happens.”

The next thing she knew, Colorado State, Idaho State, Nevada and Eastern Illinois were all knocking at the door.

The Midwest school won out because one of her coaches with the Calgary Warriors Track Club, Al Holmes, recommended the school. His son David runs track at the school.

“Yeah, I’m a little bit sad, I’ll miss it but I get to move on,” she said of high school. “I am but I’m kind of excited to get away.”

While others may have seen MacEachen’s immense talent early on, the sport was just something she enjoyed.

“In grade nine I wasn’t really into track as much as I am now,” she said. “In grade 10 I started to take it more seriously.

“I didn’t even think I’d be doing more than hurdles. I just started doing the other (events) for fun.”

MacEachen has helped George McDougall become a well-known name in provincial track circles.

“Jill has done a lot for the track program and has brought a lot of notoriety,” Mustangs coach Ryan Haggarty said. “For a sport that we don’t focus on at the school, every student knows how phenomenal and humble she is.

“You go watch a track meet and most of the time you’ll have one or two students come from our school to watch, but when Jill runs 30 or 40 people come out to watch her run. Everyone recognizes that she is that good.”

Reserved and humble on the outside, once she’s in the blocks there is only one goal.

“Jill is extremely internally driven and extremely competitive,” Haggarty said. “You won’t necessarily hear her talk about winning and losing, but she doesn’t like to lose.”

The EIU Panthers are hoping that continues.