Semira Killebrew Is Ready For Another Breakout Season

Semira Killebrew won't shy away from it. 

"Last year was my breakout season," she said. 

And on multiple levels. Whether it was her development, confidence, win count, or straight up racing at the highest level, the Brebeuf Jesuit Prepatory High School (IN) athlete truly began to ascend up the sprint ranks as a junior last season. 

She won her first state title in Indiana at 100 meters, posted superb outdoor personal records of 11.55 seconds and 23.73 seconds, and even tested herself at the USA Junior level, competing for a chance to qualify for the IAAF U20 Championships. 

But now the Indiana prep has one more indoor season left -- and another this spring during outdoors -- and only she knows the goals she's chasing. In some ways, a new season begins for her on Sunday at the SPIRE Scholastic Showcase in Geneva, Ohio, as she looks to finish her indoor career at New Balance Nationals Indoor in March. 

The University of North Carolina signee will race at 60 and 200 meters on SPIRE's fast 300m track, and she enters as one of the event's primary faces to watch.

Historically, SPIRE has been good to sprinters. Last year saw meet records go down at both distances by virtue of Abby Steiner's performances, including a best of 7.36 seconds in the 60m and 23.60 seconds in the 200m. 

And Killebrew isn't far behind. 

* Killebrew puts down a US No. 2 at the Arkansas High School Invitational

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But she's wise enough to know that records just don't happen with a routine performance. Breaking 24 doesn't just happen. She knows she'll have to come up with a special effort to even win. 

"I'm really looking forward to SPIRE," Killebrew said. "The Arkansas meet gave me a lot of confidence." 

While she raced early in December, her season kickstarted in January at the Arkansas High School Invitational. There, Killebrew scored a US No. 2 time of 7.37 in the 60m and a personal record of 24.03 in the 200m. 

She knows she's on the cusp of breaking 24 -- only five athletes in the country have done it so far. 

"I definitely want to run this weekend in the 23s," she said. "I ran that time on a banked track, and I'm not really accustomed to them because we don't really have them in the Midwest. But what that did was boost my confidence and I trust I can do some big things." 

Last year, as previously mentioned, was a banner year at SPIRE. Steiner wasn't on an island, either. Pushing her toward that meet record was Rush Henrietta's Lanae-Tava Thomas, who was second in the 200m in a No. 2 facility mark of 23.66. Thomas was right behind Steiner in the 60, too (7.39). 

Killebrew might enter as the favorite on Sunday, but she doesn't always feel like it. 

"I feel like I come into races as the underdog," said Killebrew, who's maybe a shade over 5-feet. "I keep that mentality and I race as an underdog so I can push myself. I can never get too comfortable." 

For a reminder, she looks back to her sophomore year, when a hip injury sidelined her for much of the season. When she returned, she switched up coaches, working with her dad, Rico, and she feels that was the difference maker last year. 

"It was experimental at first," she said. "Everything was new, but now I'm more settled in and prepared. All the changes I think will help this year." 

Killebrew relies on her explosiveness out of the blocks, and her training this indoor season has centered around "a lot of repetitive speed" and "short power stuff." Key dynamic drills include bounding and plyometric work. 

Killebrew doesn't run over 200 meters in practice, but she and her dad focus on short recovery and explosive work. 

"That's boosted my conditioning," she said. 

And now Killebrew will have a chance to show off her work in Ohio. It's the second meet she's traveling out of state, and then she'll head to New York in March for nationals before finishing off her indoor season at the state's championship meet. 

"I'm really looking forward to racing everybody," she said. 

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