As a member of the Frederick Track and Field Club, Cheryl Poirier won several national age group titles and set national records in her hurdle events. From the age of 10 until she was 14 years old, she was the nation’s top hurdler. At 15, competing in the Maple Leaf Indoor Games in Toronto, an invitational event that attracted world-class athletes, she finished fourth in the hurdles, although she beat former Olympian Mamie Rollins. In the same year, Poirier was a member of the team that competed in the U.S.A.–U.S.S.R. Junior Track and Field Meet in Austin, Texas, where she won the bronze medal. She earned a track scholarship to the University of Florida.