Seventeen-year-old junior Hannah Cunliffe is nationally-ranked as one of the fastest high-schoolers in the nation.
"I want to go to college, run track there and hopefully go pro. And after that, I want to be a lawyer,” she said.
As it turns out, Cunliffe is getting an early introduction to law. Cunliffe is home-schooled. When she was a freshman, she planned to run for nearby Decatur High. According to a sworn affidavit, Cunliffe was stepped on and spit at during practice by a teammate. Frustrated, she quit the team days later.
After the incident at Decatur, Cunliffe took a year off. She went to an online home-schooling program through Oregon and even ran track for that school. This year, she wanted to come back to Federal Way High School. That's when her high school track dreams took an unexpected turn.
"Then there was something and it was just a big mess from there,” Cunliffe said.
The Washington Interscholastic Activities Association (WIAA) denied Cunliffe varsity eligibility, claiming she could not transfer within the district and the alleged attack did not happen.
Cunliffe sued. Her attorney alleges he has proof the WIAA and the Federal Way School District conspired against her.
The WIAA said it "does not comment on eligibility cases."
The Federal Way School District said simply, "We are an affiliate of the WIAA. This is a WIAA issue."
"It just seems like people are trying to hold me back from doing what I love,” said Cunliffe.
Being kept out of high school track meets could impact Cunliffe's college scholarship and recruiting opportunities.
She'll still run for her club, but she hopes this mess is soon sorted out.
"I'm just trying to run, honestly. It just sucks I'm being held back from what I've been doing my whole life,” she said.
Cunliffe's lawsuit was recently moved to federal court, delaying any possible decision on her eligibility. She hopes the matter is settled by next season.