It’s often been said that nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm.

It’s often been said that nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm.

If this is the case, then former Plainview High School track athlete CJ Hornback is destined for great things in life.

“My family always taught me that if you have a goal in life, do whatever you can to accomplish it,” she said.

There wasn’t much the former Lady Indians standout didn’t accomplish during her time at PHS.

Not only did the Class of 2012 alumni play four seasons of softball, three seasons of basketball and cheer for two seasons, but she was a six-time state champion in track.

Hornback was a back-to-back state champ in the 300 hurdles in her junior and senior years, along with winning the 100 hurdles as a sophomore and senior while taking second as a junior.

She also holds the school record in the 100 and 300 meter hurdle events at Plainview.

There was also the small matter of Plainview winning two state titles, two state runner-up titles, three regional titles and two conference titles during the time Hornback was a member of the squad. 

While she was rich with success on the athletic field, it was the classroom where CJ always made sure her priorities fell when it came down to business.

A perfect example of this came this past year when Hornback finished her senior season at Southern Nazarene University in Bethany.

Not only was Hornback named the MVP for the Women’s Track and Field program for 2017, but she was also a Gold Medal Scholar, along with being named as a distinguished scholar athlete for the Great American Conference. 

“To be honest, I can’t believe track is over for me,” Hornback said. “This was something I’ve been doing since fourth or fifth grade. I’ve had some amazing mentors, coaches, teammates, family members and just an amazing overall support group throughout this journey.”

And as for being a standout in the classroom in high school and college?

“It was extremely hard, let me tell you,” Hornback said about balancing track and academics in college at SNU. “There were times I’d be up all night studying for an exam, or having to finish a project and then be up the next morning for track practice. What really helped me though, was how understanding my coaches and professors were if I needed to miss practice or something with my class. Their priority was making sure I was healthy and safe first and foremost.” 

“I felt a little pressure to do well once I first got to SNU,” Hornback added. “But after a little while, I realized we were all there for a reason. There was a big difference between high school and college track. In high school, it was just a natural thing finding a balance between practice, academics, and having a social life. Once I got to college it was so difficult to find a balance at first. But, I was able to do it eventually and it all worked out for me.”

During her time at SNU, Hornback did what she does best, be a standout performer.

In 2013, she ran a career best time in the 400 hurdles at the Southwestern Relays outdoor event at 1:04.83. She also ran career best times in the 60 meter run and 60 meter hurdles events at the NCCAA Indoor Track and Field National Championships. 

She also notched solid performances during her 2014 season before redshirting in 2015. During her 2016 season, she competed in 22 total events as a junior, while earning 11 top-10 finishes and three top-3 finishes. 

It should come as no surprise that Hornback also holds the school records at SNU in the 400 hurdles and the heptathlon. 

Ironically enough, Hornback said it was her senior season which was her favorite because of what she got to compete in, the heptathlon, where she would be doing seven events at the same time including the 200 and 800-meter runs, 100-meter hurdles, high jump, shot put, long jump, and the javelin throw. 

“Trying to do seven events at the same time was a challenge,” Hornback said. “What’s funny is that SNU was the only school who recruited me for other track events. Every other school that recruited me wanted me to do the heptathlon. I had always had an interest in doing it, and I had a lighter class load this past year so I figured I would give it a try.”

“It was a little difficult though because I sometimes could only make practice twice a week,” Hornback added. “But again that comes back to my coaches working with me and just being patient with me which allowed me to be successful.”

What’s next for Hornback? Well ironically enough in her words, it’s just another “hurdle” on the road to where she wants to eventually end up.

Beginning this fall Hornback will be attending the University of Oklahoma Medical school, as she works towards her dream job in the medical field.

While some people might be scared to be away from athletics for a purely academic life, CJ said she is very excited to strictly be a student beginning this fall.  

“Running track has been a great thing for me,” Hornback said. “Medical school is just another hurdle in front of me to where I want to be. Just like in track you have to clear all the hurdles and eventually you end up at the finish line before you know it. That’s how I’m approaching the next chapter for my life.”

“I’ve never been able to be just a student,” she added. “I’ve always been a student-athlete. I’m excited to finally be able to take classes I’m passionate about and chase my dream. I was one of those kids that was sitting down watching “Untold Stories of the ER” at age five. I’ve always wanted to be a doctor, I’m just not sure where or what kind yet. But, I’m excited to figure it out and the journey it’s going to take me on.”

As for her advice for those who are going to college and worried about balancing athletics?

“Always be a student first no matter what,” Hornback said. “Just remember you are there to get a quality education above anything else. I knew that I didn’t want to be a pro track athlete, but I also knew that I wanted to pursue my dreams in pre-med. My advice would be to just focus on your education and let athletics take care of themselves afterwards.”