Written and Media by Dylon Niswonger.
The Indoor Christian National Championships might be the most anticipated meet of the indoor season for Greenville University Track and Field athletes. After five weeks of grind, the main event of the indoor season was here. The tension was present and sleep forfeited because February 16 had arrived. Our ladies looked to accomplish what they’d trained for.
As our athletes routinely warmed up before each competition, they portrayed self-confidence, but it was deeper than that. Half the battle was fought in the mind where nerves were evident. Fear too easily tugged at each athlete as they listened to the gunfire and watched the races before their own. The atmosphere at the national level carried an intimidation factor that made it hard for athletes to remain confident. However, this intensity forged some great performances.
Sydney Porter, a junior, has had a season of ups and downs due to recovering from an injury last year. She managed to progress weekly but was unable to produce any lifetime bests within the pentathlon. This caused her some doubt as Christian Nationals quickly approached. She found difficulty improving in the pent because of the lack of opportunity to focus on one event. In the pentathlon, she focused on five events. Therefore, she felt as though she was unable to excel at one individual event. Porter also pointed out that the difficulty in the pent was not letting a bad outcome in one event affect her drive in the next. When nerves set in, Porter stopped, took a step back, and evaluated herself. Porter reminded herself what she is made of when combating the nerves by “speaking it into existence.” She went on to take fourth in the pentathlon.
Rachel Hanna, also a junior, went into Christian Nationals confident about the pole vault but nervous for the 60-meter hurdles she had been continually improving. She just barely made the cut when qualifying in the hurdles, suspending her qualifying race to the weekend just before nationals. When facing uneasiness, Hanna reminds herself that she is in it for the experience: “I pray, close my eyes, take a deep breath, and do what I know I’m capable of.” She entered the meet ranked third in the 60-meter hurdles and seventh in pole-vaulting but walked out with fourth in hurdles and third place in pole vault.
Lia Kruse, a senior, has had an outstanding indoor season. She put in the time and mileage each week. When someone puts every ounce of their effort into something, the fear of failure can overshadow the drive to succeed. The fear of failing can occasionally provoke us to place limitations on ourselves. Kruse has been retaliating against this trap by pushing herself with multiple goals, some nearly unreasonable but with the intent of breaking limits she unknowingly places on herself. She often pictured herself finishing a race with powerful energy and completing the goal she set for herself. She used that feeling of accomplishment as motivation. Kruse competed hard, finishing ninth in the mile with a lifetime best of 5:23.
Another of the team’s seniors, Maribeth Tate, has not had the season she desired but has still had an impressive season regardless. When preparing to throw the weight, Tate didn’t focus on the negatives but simply kept her mind clear of stress. The moment she let the intensity of competing take up space in her mind, it consumed her every thought. Before the meet, she was confident that she could compete at the national level and could perform her best throws. “It was just a matter of doing it,” she claimed. Tate earned fifth in the weight throw.
Our ladies managed to perform well at the national level, with multiple lifetime bests and top eight finishes. Jessica Staley, a junior, had an incredible weekend. Staley came home with hardware around her neck with a second place finish in an impressive 400-meter race. She was also a member of the 4×200 meter relay with Jayda Fowler, Taylor Tucker, and Rachel Hanna. Their relay came in 4th and was an exciting race to watch.
The stiff competition at NCCAAs pushed our women’s track team to deliver their best performances this weekend. The intensity can be intimidating but our ladies proved that they are fighters at the core.
As the outdoor season is quickly approaching, Greenville’s women look forward to the long season ahead.