GRAY, Maine — When life deals you a bad hand, you make the best of it.

Star runner Erica Schlichting was hit with a hip injury to start her junior year, so she focused on supporting Gray-New Gloucester's cross country team in other ways. Erica came back better than ever and went on to shatter school records in several cross country and track events, including the mile, the 800 and a couple of relays.

Why does Erica run all year round?

"That's a hard question," Erica says. "When you are running, a lot of times it's really painful and I don not like it. I'm like, 'Why do I do this to myself?' But then you finish your long race or your workout and you're so happy."

Erica gets the same kind of joy from working hard in school. She's one of a select few in GNG's International Baccalaureate program. Science classes are where she shines the brightest. Erica is headed to BC in the fall on a pre-med track of study. 

"She loves biology," says her biology teacher, Karen Licht. "I can't wait to she what she's going to do in the future in bio-chem. She's probably going to solve some disease out there and cure it. I just can't wait to see."

Good ideas come naturally to the senior who started a program called "Lunch Buddies" to better connect with her fellow classmates. She's also never afraid to take the lead. Erica is NHS president, a Community Service Club board member and a cross country captain.

"Getting a good education and being smart and having the skills to move onto college is really important, but I am definitely a strong believe that that stuff doesn't really matter if you can't communicate it, be a good person and be active in the community," says Erica.

It's a balancing act that Erica has mastered and will carry with her on the road ahead.

Congratulations to Erica Schlichting, the newest member of the Varsity Club!