Inside the mind of a runner

Derik Wuchte

Last weekend at a meet in Florida, sophomore Rebecca Parker broke Georgia Southern’s school record in the 3000 meter steeplechase. She has been an important part of the school’s distance running team this season for both track and cross country. Her success comes from all the hard work she puts into running, but that success had to be founded before Parker could end up where she is today.

Parker started as a soccer player in high school. Cross country was collateral for her back in the day.

“I did [cross country] my freshman year because of high school, to stay in shape for soccer,” Parker said. “My sister kind of made me cause she wanted me to make the varsity team. I hated it. I would walk into cross country meets and hated it. But then, that year, I made varsity. I was about to join another soccer team that summer. I started running like twice a day. I was like, ‘I got to get into shape. I can’t be that slow one in the back on the team.’ And so, I kept running and then I got to cross country practice that next year. I was with our top runners.”

With running, distance running in particular, Parker found herself in a sport she could compete in. It had an organic flow to it unlike other sports. With soccer or tennis, an athlete needs to understand a list of complexities that start with serving or passing and end with collegiate-level performance. Track & field projects a different mentality onto its athletes.

“With other sports, you have to learn technique and there’s so much to learn. With running, about anyone can run. Even if it’s not competitive. I love the competitive aspect of it. It’s my favorite. But, especially with the steeplechase, it’s just something. The steeplechase gives you that extra something to do. It’s something to really focus on. I love and really enjoy doing it.”

The steeplechase is different than a traditional 3000 meter run. It includes hurdles and water jumps, which are jumps over a barrier into a small pit of water. Besides those obstacles, the rest of the run is linear around a normal outdoor track.

Parker is only a sophomore and to break a record at her year means room for improvement. When discussing her future achievements, her ambitions are set even higher.

“Time-wise, definitely, keep breaking my record. Maybe cut off a minute or two in the 5K,” Parker said. “Individually, I’d love to keep competing regionally in cross country and track. Maybe take the [track team] to regionals. Keep taking the team to these big competitions. To really compete against the top collegiate athletes; to be able to compete and keep getting higher up there in the level.”

Parker plans to stay an Eagle and see how far the team can go while she is here. The season has a few competitions left, but, until it’s all said and done, she will be working hard until the last event finishes.