What’s your story?
I started track when I was 9 years old (wow, that’s over a decade of running in circles!) at the prompting of my neighbor even though I really wanted to do karate. Nevertheless, there I was on the St. Charles Striders Track Club with my painfully bright orange uniform. I began with the basics– 100m, 200m, 400m, and long jump. I did well in long jump, setting an AAU regional record in my first year. When I became old enough my track club coaches really wanted me to try triple jump as well. No problem! It looked like a fun challenge of rhythm and coordination. I loved it and excelled. I always found the details of technique the most intriguing, whether it was in singing, dancing, or track. Then my coaches proffered the hurdles to me as my next challenge. This, however, horrified me. Why was I supposed to run full speed at and over a part-metal, part-plastic thing designed to stop me?! So as is typical, I run up to it, come essentially to a stop, and just long jump over it. But after getting familiar with the concept of hurdling technique, I took off!
At this point I was starting high school. I ran the 110 meter hurdles and the 300 meter hurdles. The summer after freshman year I was at a USATF youth meet and watched in agony as athletes ran the 400 meter hurdles: that was just too far to hurdle ever! I vowed to myself that I would never do that to myself. So I went through high school and most of college doing other things such as the 60 meter hurdles, 110 meter hurdles, triple jump, 4x100m relay, 4x400m relay. Throughout the years as the intensity of my training increased, injuries would come and go. Pulled hamstrings, sprained ankle, and a nasty patellar tendonitis that still haunts me to this day. But through it all, I still experienced successes, acquiring gold medals in high school state championships and college conference championships. Toward the end of my college career, we were in need of a 400 meter hurdler.
So 6 years after I said I would never do such a thing, I did the thing. As it turned out I had potential in the 400 meter hurdles, promising to be my most successful event. After I graduated, I packed my bags and traveled clean across the U.S. from college in Boston to ALTIS in Phoenix to dedicate myself to this event to see how far I could go.
What was your most monumental moment in Track and Field?
I would say that my most monumental moment in Track & Field so far occurred when I won the 2015 Ivy League Championship in the 400 meter hurdles at Penn. It was the biggest moment for me because it was a moment that provided me both redemption and self-affirmation. You see, a couple weeks earlier on that very same track at the Penn Relays, I was competing in the 400 meter hurdles for the fourth time ever. It was a complete wreck of race for me, and it was televised! It was the worst race I’ve ever run. I just felt awful and didn’t even want to compete in the next round. I wondered if maybe I just really wasn’t cut out for higher achievements in the event or track as a whole. Nonetheless, the weeks rolled by and it was time to compete in that same race on that same track at the conference championships. Pushing down the inner turmoil of bad memories, I overcame myself and ran as I knew I could, I should. And with that, I set a personal record and won the race. Not only was I able to redeem myself from a past disappointment but I also proved to myself that there was more to me than I thought. This one moment served to catapult to where I am now training for the U.S. Olympic Trials.
What is your mindset going into the Olympic year?
“Aspire”. This is the simple thought I maintain going into this Olympic year– just like every other year past. I aspire to reach my highest point by stewarding and honing the talents given to me. So this is my first post-collegiate year of competition approaching. No classes, no semester-end projects, and no reasons for sleep deprivation! I have put all my energy and focus into becoming all that I can be in this sport. I’ve set my aspirations high, so let’s see how far I go. I’m pumped!