About this series
Coming up with a short list and then ranking the 10 greatest athletes in the history of each YAIAA high school was a daunting task. For sure, there is no scientific approach. But after two years of interviews, research and roundtable discussions, we are presenting as fair an attempt as possible to create an objective list on a decidedly subjective topic.
OUR CRITERIA: 1. The only accomplishments considered were those achieved while competing in high school varsity athletics. If an athlete earned a college scholarship, that was also factored in. 2. Accomplishments outside the setting of high school varsity sports and accomplishments after high school were not taken into account. 3. Athletes who attended more than one local high school were only evaluated at the school where they had the most varsity success. 4. Female athletes were rated by how they dominated their own sports not how they would fare going head-to-head against male athletes.

Your turn
If you d like to comment or offer a differing opinion on this list, we d love to hear from you. Each Sunday, we ll present your feedback on opinions on page 2 of the York Sunday News sports section - The Rundown. E-mail your thoughts to Sports Editor Chris Otto at cotto@ydr.com or mail them to: Greatest Athletes, c/o Chris Otto, 1891 Loucks Road, York 17408.

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It happened when she was running faster than everyone, playing soccer harder than anyone.

It still happens.

She remembers back . . . her vision starting to fade, dark spots appearing in front her eyes.

Sometimes she made it to the finish line, wheezing loudly, doubling over, causing a scene.

Sometimes she simply blacked out and fell down.

The girl who won a district title in the 400 meters and finished fourth in the state as a sophomore at Spring Grove High remembers finally discovering that she had asthma.

"It definitely changed me," she said. "I always was good at sports and didn't have to work that hard and didn't understand other people working hard and setting goals."

In college, "All of a sudden I was one of the worst runners on the team.

Emily Ural played four sports at Spring Grove; field hockey was one of her best, as she was the league’s top goalie as a junior and senior.
Emily Ural played four sports at Spring Grove; field hockey was one of her best, as she was the league's top goalie as a junior and senior. (Submitted)
I thought, 'Now I know what it's like for everybody else.' I had to work harder."

Even with asthma, she was a dynamo in high school.

Ural starred in the 100 meters as well as the 200, 400, 800 and even the long jump and triple jumped before graduating in 1988.

"She was a big-time Division I (track) prospect," said Dennis Latchaw, her former coach. "(But) soccer was her thing. The incredible speed and strength and determination that girl had . . ."

Said Ural: "I just put a lot of stress and pressure on myself with track. I always just enjoyed (soccer) more. Even though I had more potential in track I was happier in soccer. But other people who knew me thought I was crazy."

She even was the YAIAA's top field hockey goalie, too. She was a decent basketball player. And in the spring she was good enough to be an all-star in two sports.

Asthma, though, also caught up to her in soccer.

"It was really frustrating because nobody knew what to do with it. I was young and it scared me every time I had an attack. I'd be running or playing soccer and I just started feeling like someone was grabbing me around the neck and it was hard to get a breath."

She received some Division I and II college recruiting interest for soccer, but she decided on studying biology at James Madison University - and bypassing varsity sports because of her asthma and school work.

Soon enough, though, she missed the competition and joined the track team anyway - and struggled. Her times were slower than her best in high school and the blackout episodes persisted.

But she did have a new sports experience, a new purpose.

"I was on the team to be a good role model.

"When I was younger I just assumed I was born fast. Then, all of a sudden, I'm one of the slower runners on the team. It made me appreciate the gifts I had."

Now, she spends her time working as a reading specialist in the Virginia Beach area, helping children with behavioral problems.

Of course, she still plays sports. And just about as many as she did in high school, even though she turns 29 in November.

She plays on two soccer teams and a softball team. She does adventure races, in which she bikes, kayaks and runs.

She still takes asthma medication every day and always carries an inhaler.

"It doesn't bother me as much (as in college). Everything I do is recreational. I can manage it a little better because I know I can stop" and just walk off the field.

She always comes back, though.

Slowly winning her battle, nothing really slowing her down.

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