Senior Ryley Hurley starred on both the mat and track this winter.
Ryley Hurley was feeling ambitious this winter and wanted to try something different. So, she did.
Already a four-time state champion cheerleader, you weren’t going to keep her off the mat. But with the cheerleading team opting to be noncompetitive for the season, that opened the door for Hurley, a senior at Whitman-Hanson Regional High, to flash her talents as a double-sport athlete. She knew it and joined the girls’ indoor track team.
“I really enjoyed being a part of two teams,” Hurley said. “It kept me fully involved with the school spirit and I love that. I had track practice every day after school, including days with meets. On days where we had to cheer at the basketball game, we would have a practice beforehand.”
Despite the busy schedule, she flourished. In addition to being named the MVP of the cheerleading team, Hurley was one of the girls’ indoor track team’s top point-getters.
“I am so proud of what I have accomplished not only this past winter season, but all four years of high school,” Hurley said. “Being a part of a team is so special. Even if the outcome was not what we hoped for, the bonds that I have made along the way make every practice and moment worth it.”
Hurley’s track career began middle school, but she didn’t participate in high school until last spring after some persuading.
“I recognized her athletic ability previously after watching the cheerleading practices, which took place in the gym while we practiced on the indoor track,” said W-H girls’ indoor and outdoor track head coach Steve George. “She was, in my opinion, that team’s most athletic member and its best gymnast. I felt she could be a very good track athlete.
“I asked a couple of our team members who had been cheerleaders, Dorothy DiMascio-Donohue and Allison Bartlett, to encourage Ryley to join the team.”
Hurley made a statement, qualifying for states in both the 400-meter dash and 400-meter hurdles. This winter, she excelled in 300-meter dash, high jump, long jump and as a leg on the 4×200 relay team and racked up the third most points on the team. She was unable to participate in the pentathlon after having her wisdom teeth extracted.
“She has the gift of speed and that along with her natural athleticism make her a track athlete with unlimited potential,” George said. “She also brings with her a genuine enthusiasm and willingness to take on any event when asked, adding the long and high jump to her resume.”
Hurley said picking up track last spring benefited her when the cheer season rolled around this fall.
“Doing track last spring and continuing the training all year really helped improve my stamina,” she said. “I was in shape and ready to go for the start of my fall season.”
Hurley’s passion for cheerleading began in second grade and has never wavered.
“From the first moment that I took the mat to compete I knew I was in it for the long haul,” Hurley said. “I loved learning new tumbling skills as well as learning new stunting positions throughout the years.”
She wrapped up her high school cheerleading career with four state titles, an NCA National title and a New England title.
“She is an athlete that has in one two-minute routine quite literally been in almost every stunting position,” said W-H cheerleading head coach Alyssa Hayes. “I would say that’s a rare feat, especially for high school cheer. She is our best jumper. She is one of our captains. She motivates the team. I could go on and on.”
Hayes said Hurley’s grit and determination make her special.
“I have seen her encounter obstacles in both youth and high school cheerleading, academics, tough losses, and regardless of each problem she pushes through until coming through to the other side,” Hayes said.
One of those obstacles is a tumbling block, which is a mental hurdle that keeps you from completing a tumble kill that you’ve done — even moments before.
“Mine has surfaced throughout the years usually after a fall of some sort,” Hurley said. “When the block would appear, I never gave up, not even once. Through multiple tumbling classes and talking myself through it I continue to try and push past it.”
Hurley said when she looks back on her time at W-H, one day comes to mind before any other.
“My greatest high school athletic memory so far was winning States for the first [during] time winter season of my freshman year,” Hurley said.
*This story will run in the Express’ print edition on Thursday, May 7.