Not everyone instinctively connects one’s participation in show choir with running hurdles during a track meet.
Tori Long isn’t everyone.
The Center Grove senior does, however, seem to be everywhere.
“For me, placement is the first thing that comes to mind,” said Long, who aside from being an Alto 1 in the varsity show choir is a defending state finals qualifier in the 300-meter low hurdles and 1,600 relay.
“In both show choir and hurdling it becomes more natural the more you do it,” she added.
The time management skills Long exhibits daily are impressive.
Ranked 13th academically in a class of 587 students with a 4.44 grade-point average, she also is involved in student government, Fellowship of Christian Athletes, National Honor Society and Spanish Honor Society.
Long has signed to attend Davidson College, located 20 minutes north of Charlotte, N.C. She will run track for the Wildcats and major in neuroscience.
“The thing that sticks out in my mind about Tori is she has a real drive to be successful. I coached cross-country here for like six years, so I know what it takes for her to manage her time,” Center Grove High School choral director Jennifer Dice said.
“There’s always going to be overlap. Coach (Wes) Dodson and I have a good working relationship to get her where she needs to be.”
Long’s frenetic pace intensifies during the spring sports season.
Between practices, meets, show choir and every other extracurricular activity, Long has become adept at spreading herself as thin as humanly possible. Not surprisingly, she views remaining busy as a positive rather than a negative.
“I actually think being busy is the reason I’m successful. It’s taught me time management, for sure. It’s important for me to stick by who I am, and being busy makes me focus better. So far it’s worked out pretty well,” Long said.
Long’s 2014 track season featured a third-place finish in the 300 hurdles at the Franklin Sectional in a time of 47.82 second, a fourth at the Shelbyville Regional (46.85) and her 15th-place showing at state (46.91).
She also teamed with Olivia Rassel, Lauren Rau and since-graduated Aliyah Clinker to blaze a fourth-place time of 3:54.86 at the state finals in the 1,600 relay.
Rassel is now a sophomore, Rau a junior. This makes Long the experienced voice of what could again be one of Indiana’s elite 1,600 relay quartets should Dodson unearth the ideal candidate to succeed Clinker.
Impressive credentials for a student-athlete who didn’t even clear her first hurdle until the 2013 track and field season.
“Considering Tori only started hurdling as a sophomore, she’s made huge strides. As a coach I do see lots of kids who do lots of things, but I don’t think I could do what Tori does and be good at all of them,” Dodson said.
“She is just very mature. Any time we have anything she’s in charge, because if Tori’s in charge it’s going to be great. It’s like having another coach out there.”
Singing and dancing built a big head start over hurdling in Long’s world. She got involved in choir in elementary school and is, not surprisingly, more at ease in those activities than navigating the corners of a track’s all-weather surface.
“It’s two totally different worlds. Performing is more natural for me. I love it. Every time I get to be on stage it’s exciting because you get to be someone you’re not. But it wouldn’t be as much fun if I was up there alone,” Long said.
“People watching me hurdle is a blessing, but I worry because it’s not as natural.”
Having already been to state finals both as a solo performer and part of a relay, it would surprise no one to see Long standing on the awards podium at Indiana University on June 6.
Just don’t expect her to break into song.
THE LONG FILE
Name: Tori Long
Family: Parents, Tad and Cathy; sisters, Abby, 20, and Olivia, 11
Favorite TV show: “I Love Lucy”
Favorite food: Fruit
Favorite movie: “Avengers”
Favorite athlete: Sanya Richards-Ross
Favorite team: Indianapolis Colts