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Terrier quick to deny that she likes to run

Lack of ambition for first-place finishes doesn't keep senior Aminah Bilal from blowing away the competition.

By MIKE READLING

© St. Petersburg Times, published February 2, 2001


TAMPA -- Let's get this straight right from the start: Aminah Bilal does not like track.

She does not like running every day after school. She doesn't care about district, regional or state meets. A college scholarship would be nice, Bilal said, but ... whatever.

Truth be told, the Hillsborough senior would be just as happy beating the pants off some random boy in a barefoot race on the track during lunch, hopping into a friend's car after school and ignoring anything having to do with track and field.

Unfortunately for Bilal, she happens to be the fastest girl in Hillsborough County -- perhaps the state -- and the clamor for her to don a singlet and spikes each spring isn't going away any time soon.

"I don't really like to run," Bilal said. "But I just do because so many people tell me I have this great talent and I should use it. Everybody tells me I should go out and run track. I guess I do have something that a lot of people would want."

What Bilal has is more speed than most people can ever dream of. Last season -- her first on an organized track team -- Bilal recorded an 11.7 in the 100-yard dash and a 24.6 in the 200.

She didn't lose a race until she reached the regional meet when she finished second in each race to Palm Beach Lakes' Erica Whipple. The next week at state, Bilal wound up fourth and sixth, respectively.

That was all accomplished despite not knowing the correct way to come out of starting blocks or what it took to excel at the higher levels of competition.

"I was a little bit scared, I didn't really want to go to state," Bilal said. "It was just a normal meet. It'd be nice to go back this year but I wouldn't be hurt if I didn't."

Added Hillsborough assistant coach Steve West: "She is possibly the No. 1 runner in the state. She didn't know what she was doing when she started last year. She could be even better this year with the way she's working out of the starting blocks."

Bilal got her running start by simply being competitive and not backing down from a challenge.

It was commonplace for her to line up against whoever was around and race them to the nearest corner or the nearest mailbox. It never really mattered because Bilal was going to win.

"She'll take her shoes off in a minute and race a boy out here during lunch," Terriers coach Jean Wiser said. "She's always challenging guys. She'll go in there and get a guy from lunch, bring him out here and blow him out. She's fast, I wish I had that kind of ability."

The thing is, it's ability that only a few people may ever get to witness. She has plans to go to college but no plans whatsoever to run all four years.

"If I don't get a scholarship, that's fine," Bilal said. "I would like to. If it doesn't work out, I'll just go into the National Guard, go through six weeks of Basic Training and go to Florida State to study psychology.

"I would like to win all the races at conference once again. If I could do that I would be happy. I really would."

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