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Like mother, like daughter: Local athlete follows in Mom’s footsteps

Published: Aug. 30, 2021 at 1:44 PM CDT
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WACO, Texas (KWTX) - Aquilla track and field star Rylee Hennig has always been a fan of Tarleton State.

Her mom and dad both went to school there, but she never really thought she would do the same.

Rylee definitely didn’t think she be high jumping there, considering she hadn’t even tried the sport until her freshman year of high school.

Rylee remembers, “I was just talking to my mom one day and she was like, ‘do you see yourself doing this at the collegiate level?’. I had never really thought that I could do it.”

Rylee had won the gold medal at state as a freshman, and followed that with silver as a sophomore, but after getting knee surgery the Summer before her senior year, she felt like her chances of winning another title - or getting a college offer - had passed.

She was just focused on the grueling recovery needed just to be able to jump again.

Rylee’s mom, Amanda, tells me, “It was crying on the way to physical therapy, crying on the way home from physical therapy, but she had a team that just surrounded her and supported her.”

That support helped Rylee push through the toughest days and inspired her to reach new heights.

Rylee explains, “I wanted to make my mom proud, my family, my grandparents. I just wanted them to be proud of me. I wanted my mom, especially, to know that all the tears were worth it because I am about to win a state title.”

She actually won two state titles her senior year: one in high jump and another in Triple Jump, the same event her mom competed in while at Tarleton.

The wins gave the two some closure after a brutal rehab process.

“That is when I think it hit me and I was like, ‘none of these people know where we were last year. What we went through. What she went through,” remembers Amanda.

After the title Rylee signed her letter of intent to jump at Tarleton, just like her mother had.

It’s safe to say the two were emotional when she put on the uniform for the first time.

Amanda smiles and tells me, “Tears were flowing. They are a lot cuter than they were when I wore one! She looked so good.”

Riley adds, “I looked at myself in the mirror and I almost started crying. I was so excited! I was like, ‘oh my gosh I look good in purple’.”

For Amanda, seeing her daughter in the Tarleton jersey was special, but it was her tribute on graduation day that was the most touching.

Rylee surprised her mother by showing up with a purple graduation hat that read: “Like mother like daughter. TSU”

Amanda tells me, “As a mother you do so much for your kids and it was just proof that all those long hours, and tears, and as much as I pushed her – it was worth it.”

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