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McDonogh hurdler Autumne Franklin takes break to focus on colleges

After a busy month of running hurdles in national events, McDonogh rising senior Autumne Franklin is spending her time away from track with a sharp focus on her future.

The Owings Mills resident is participating in a five-week engineering internship with the Qualcomm in San Diego.

At the same time, Franklin, who carries a 4.0 grade point average, is visiting three of the eight schools recruiting her for track: Stanford, UCLA and San Diego State.

While in California, Franklin is staying with her grandparents. Her grandfather, Freeman Chase, is encouraging her to take a very close look at those prospective colleges.

"My grandfather is pretty big on this whole getting-ready-for-college thing, so he is pressuring me to do research on them," said Franklin, who plans to chose her school early next year. "And I have the downtime to focus on the recruiting process."

The 5-foot-4 Franklin made herself more inviting to college track programs by competing in three prestigious events in June: the Caribbean Scholastic Invitational in Puerto Rico, World Youth Track and Field Trails in South Carolina and the New Balance Nationals in North Carolina where she produced favorable results.

McDonogh assistant track coach Alrick Munroe, who works with the school's sprinters, jumpers and hurdlers, said Franklin's superior work ethic, attitude and athletic ability set her apart from so many other high school competitors.

Munroe started to get a clear picture of Franklin's potential last year when she ran a leg on the winning hurdle relay teams at Nike High School Indoor National Championships and New Balance Nationals.

"She is a coach's dream," said Munroe, who has coached high school, college and professional level for 20 years and competed at the Olympic Trials twice for Jamaica. "She is a kid who has all the tools to make it to the next level, meaning a future Olympian. We don't like to call those things too early, but she has all the tools."

Franklin shined brightest this summer at the Caribbean Scholastic Invitational, winning the 100 hurdles, finishing second in the 400 hurdles and running a leg on the winning 400 relay team that featured runners from Texas, Arizona andGeorgia.

It's the World Youth Track and Field Trails, however, that stick out more in Franklin's mind, even if for the wrong reasons.

Franklin had a legitimate chance to win the 400 hurdles in the finals well into the race.

That is, until an accident prevented the senior from finishing in the top three and advancing onto the IAAF World Youth Championships in France.

"I was going to win the race, but I hit the fourth hurdle and fell," Franklin explained. "If I hadn't fallen I would have gone on to France. I am not beating myself up on it. I honestly don't think it was my fault. For whatever reason, I wasn't meant to go to France."

Despite that one dramatic setback, competing in national events in June gave Franklin a big dose of confidence.

"I am getting my name know around the country," said Franklin, who has won six Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland individual titles at McDonogh, including the long jump and 500-meter dash. "I feel I am someone to be reckoned with now, and it feels good."

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