Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Wesley Chapel hurdler Shaniqua Hill raises money for Australia meet

Her teammates call Shaniqua Hill "Short Stuff" because the Wesley Chapel High sophomore has yet to hit 5 feet.

"Sometimes when I go to track meets, people look at me and think, 'Is she the mascot?' " Shaniqua said.

But the slight 16-year-old is the fastest hurdler on the team. Last year, she was the only freshman from her school to make it to the state track competition.

She and runners who made it to the state meet were invited to the Down Under Sports Tournaments in Australia this summer. The 10-day program for American high school athletes will include competitions in track and field, football, cheerleading, basketball, volleyball and several other sports.

Other runners balked at the price — about $4,000 per person, including flights and hotel — but Shaniqua is determined to go.

"It's not something you get to do every day," she said. "I really want to go."

Exactly how she will get there is still in the works.

"With the economy the way it is, it's impossible to come up with $4,000 at the drop of a hat," said her mom, Penny Clardy, 37.

Clardy is a former soldier and a stay-at-home mom. Shaniqua doesn't have much contact with her father. She and her extended family live with her grandmother, Geneva Rogers, 53, who works at Publix and tries to get time off for Shaniqua's meets.

The family's goal is to raise enough money to send mom and grandmother along with the track star. They'll do it by holding benefit drives and carwashes, and just plain asking for donations.

There are also rumors of a talent show fundraiser. Though instead of jumping hurdles on stage, Shaniqua would tell jokes or dance.

If Australia happens, it won't be the first time the determined "Short Stuff" has put her mind to something and succeeded.

When Shaniqua first attempted the hurdles, the petite runner's form needed some work.

With a lot of practice, she was able to perfect her stance and shave 10 seconds from her time. At the state competition in May, she ran her 300-meter hurdle personal best: 46.46 seconds.

That time didn't get her to finals, but Shaniqua still impressed her coach.

"To see that huge improvement in such little time was amazing to me," said Wesley Chapel coach Kristi Frye. "She's a little powerhouse."

Shaniqua hasn't broken any school records. Yet.

"The girls who have the school record weren't at the level Shaniqua is now," Frye said.

Shaniqua hopes to run in college, but she's realistic. Sports aren't nearly as important to her as academics.

"With track, I never know what's going to happen," she said. "If I get sick or I get hurt, academics is something I would still have."

When she grows up, she wants to be a fashion designer.

Helen Anne Travis can be reached at or (813) 435-7312.

Wesley Chapel hurdler Shaniqua Hill raises money for Australia meet 02/05/09 [Last modified: Thursday, February 5, 2009 9:13pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Jones: Bucs need success to get national respect


    Tampa Bay Times columnist Tom Jones offers up his Two Cents on the world of sports.

    No respect

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Dirk Koetter walks the field during the second day of mandatory minicamp at One Buccaneer Place in Tampa, Fla., on Wednesday, June 14, 2017. LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times
  2. Hopes fade after landslide destroys Chinese village (w/video)


    Crews searching through the night in the rubble left by a landslide that buried a mountain village under tons of soil and rocks in southwestern China found 15 bodies, but more than 110 more people remained missing.

    Vehicles and people line a road leading to the site of a landslide in Xinmo village in Mao County on Saturday in southwestern China’s Sichuan Province. More than 100 people remained missing after the village was buried under tons of rocks and soil.
  3. Rookie Jake Faria dissatisfied with performance in Rays' loss to Orioles

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — The rookie pitcher walked to his locker Saturday after tossing the fourth quality start in as many tries to begin his career. He held the potent Orioles bats to three runs and for six innings gave his team a chance to win.

    Orioles third baseman Manny Machado tags out the Rays’ Mallex Smith at third after a rundown in the first inning.
  4. Thousands converge in two St. Pete locations celebrating LGBT rights

    Human Interest

    ST. PETERSBURG — Tom Rockhill didn't know what to expect Saturday, but by noon people were knocking on the door of his bar Right Around the Corner in Grand Central.

    (From left to right) Emma Chalut 18, gets a rainbow sticker on her cheek from her sister Ellie, 15 both of Jacksonville before the annual St. Pete Pride parade in downtown St. Petersburg on Saturday. This year the route was changed from the Grand Central and Kenwood area to Bayshore Drive.
[EVE EDELHEIT   |   Times]
  5. Retired Florida Supreme Court Justice Parker Lee McDonald dies

    TALLAHASSEE — A former Florida Supreme Court justice, who wrote a decision that prevented lawyers from excluding jurors because of their race, has died.

    Former Florida Supreme Court Justice Parker Lee McDonald died Saturday, the court said in a statement. He was 93.