Cayden Sharp, a junior at Greenville University, has contributed immensely to the women’s track and field program this year. Sharp’s accumulation of five gold medals and an individual 56 points contributed to the women’s 1st place victory at the 2021 St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Indoor Meet. Without a doubt, Sharp’s work ethic did not go unnoticed by being honored with the “2021 SLIAC Track Athlete of the Year.”
Sharp started her track career in her junior year of high school in Waverly, Illinois. Her unique beginner’s tale started when the U.S. National Guard visited her high school P.E. class. The National Guard brought in a blow-up obstacle course. Sharp zoomed through the obstacle course and outperformed women and men. Sharp’s PE teacher/track coach noticed her speed and suggested she should join track. Hesitantly, she joined and excelled without realizing that she was good at track. The passion was developed, and Sharp went on to win sectionals in the 100-meter, 200-meter, and high jump during her senior year. Her accomplishments took her to state in those events, too. Sharp attributes her track success to a high school senior, Jessica Staley. Staley was an inspiration that motivated her to achieve her goals. Also, Sharp’s 10 years of competitive gymnastics training contributed immensely to her track success.
Sharp’s track and field dreams continued at Greenville University. The recruitment from Coach Patton and Coach Wilson has paid big dividends to Greenville University’s track and field program. Sharp was so impressed with her first visit to Greenville University. Sharp genuinely states, “Even though we are D3, Greenville University has one of the best track programs I have witnessed.” Greenville’s warm welcome and sincere interest in her athletic ambitions convinced her final choice. After Sharp came to Greenville University, she picked up additional events and became a heptathlete. The heptathlon is a two-day event that consists of the high jump, long jump, 100-meter hurdles, 200-meter sprint, shot put, javelin, and 800-meter run. Also, she picked up the triple jump as an additional event.
Sharp’s strenuous practice schedule involves 2-3 training sessions a day during track season. Sharp lifts twice a week in the mornings, which is the most vital part of her training. She hurdles, high jumps, and throws javelin twice a week. Once a week, Sharp will long jump, triple jump, and throw shot put. In addition, she tries to do a strong sprinting workout with a block start technique once a week. Sharp stresses that drinking lots of water and getting plenty of rest prepares her for event day. Sharp expresses, “It is a lot of work, but the payoff is worth it. It is a balance between endurance, technique, and strength.”
Sharp’s accomplishments are numerous throughout her recent years. Her commitment to practice, along with the support of her Greenville teammates, adds to her success. Her goals for the next season are to score 4,000 points in the heptathlon, make it to the D3 Nationals, and take home more Christian National and conference titles. In the meantime, she coaches gymnastics, hangs with friends, listens to music, and plays ukulele.
The simple advice Sharp would give to a new beginner in track and field is to hit the weight room. The weight room is an important aspect to doing well. Sharp advises, “Learn from your failures, and do not get discouraged. Even if you are not doing well, continue to practice. You will see results.” Amazingly, Sharp lives by her words, and the results exemplify her personal character and success in track and field.
Media by Seth Isringhausen.