Leader of the pack

Derik Wuchte

With two meets under their belt, the track and field team is on the path to a big season. The Eagles have found themselves with a handful of top-five finishes, and a number of their players have been performing well across the board. Sophomore Rebecca Parker, one of the top runners in cross country last season, has been running in the 5000-meter, the 3000-meter and the one-mile this spring. Two weeks ago, she and some of her teammates set records for Georgia Southern distance running indoors. The season is still young, but the team has shown a lot of potential so far.

“I think it’s going to be great seeing all of our training come together,” Parker said. “Most of our training is a build-up from the summer for track season.”

Parker placed second in the 5000 at the Wake Forest Invitational two weeks ago. This past weekend, at Clemson, SC, she raced in the 3000 and the one-mile. She earned top eight and top 12, respectively.

As a distance runner on the track team, Parker routinely goes through a different process than her other teammates. She and the other distance runners have been putting in a lot of time in order to improve themselves. Distance hasn’t always been one of Southern’s highest points, so it’s a gradual process for it to earn recognition.

“Our 5K on Saturday, we really tried hard to work together. It was our first 5K on a track,” Parker said. ” We were really nervous. But we worked together and we all did really well.”

On that Saturday, Parker mentioned, she, junior Bianka Loza and junior Ashton Lord earned top six finishes in the Wake Forest Invitational. Those three have been the lead distance runners this spring. Parker did not race in the 5000m at Clemson, but her two teammates did. They managed to both earn top eight places this weekend.

“It’s going to be great to see how we keep working together, running the times and competing at conference,” Parker said. “Right now, we’re all ranked to run at conference.”

The team has a lot of meets scheduled before the Sun Belt Outdoor Championship in May. It is only two weeks before the Sun Belt Indoor Championship, however. That leaves the Samford Stand Alone Multi in two weeks being the only competition before that weekend hits.

On the track side, GSU came up big in Clemson. Junior Asha Stegall found a first place finish in the 400-meter. Freshman Jamelia Owens earned third place in shot put. Junior Nia Hill, junior Kelsey Arnold, senior Ashleigh Rasheed and senior Keyanna Harris each got top five in their respective competitions, which ranged from the 60-meter to the weight throw, triple jump and high jump.

The goals are set high for the team, but they are practical. It comes down to training and staying on top of their game. GSU knows not to take a day off and the team knows to keep going hard.

“Definitely do everything at practice: weights, recovery; 100%. Anything. Even just a sore muscle,” Parker said. “If coach says cooldown, you do your cooldown. If he says 200 at whatever pace, run that pace. Everything to a tee. It’s definitely going to make a difference. That’s how track and field is. It’s everything to a tee. Very serious.”

“We’re looking great. Definitely a lot better than last year,” Parker said. “We’re looking well in the conference too. I’m very excited. I think we’ll do well this year.”

On the weekend of Feb. 12, GSU will be heading to Birmingham, AL. for their last meet until the Sun Belt Indoor Championship on Feb. 22. That will be the first major competition until May when the Sun Belt Outdoor Championship takes place.