Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Harrison Sets New School Record, Strives for NCAA title

Here's my newest article for Virginia Tech's paper, The Collegiate Times. www.collegiatetimes.com

Senior Queen Harrison broke Virginia Tech’s record for the women’s 400-meter with a time of 53.64 seconds, earning herself a trip to the NCAA Championship in just the first meet of the indoor season.
Her sprints coach Charles Foster is not surprised by the record.

“She knows that if she can run her fastest time the first time she hits the track, the sky’s the limit for her,” Foster said.

“I’m not surprised in her first competition that she was able to run as well as she did,” said Dave Cianelli, the Tech director of track and field. “It’s certainly exciting because it shows she’s in very good shape, but that she’s (also) going to run faster. It’s just a matter of her staying healthy for her to do that.”

Even Harrison did not seem all that surprised with the results.

“I want to say it was a surprise, but I also feel like I’m running a whole lot faster this season,” she said.

When it comes to events, Harrison runs several that vary from indoor season (60-meter hurdles, the 400-meter and 4x4 relay) to the spring outdoor season (100-meter hurdles, 400-meter hurdles and 4x4 relay).
Harrison, one of the most talented track athletes to ever come through Tech’s program, has been a key contributor to the team since her freshman season when she first earned the All-American title.

She was a member of Team USA in the 2008 Olympics following her sophomore year and competed in the 400-meter hurdles where she reached the

“Even though she made the Olympic team in the 400-meter hurdles, I’m not convinced that’s her best event, because she hasn’t really maximized her potential in the 100-meter hurdles,” Cianelli said.

Cianelli believes Harrison’s contributions to the program have extended well beyond the track. He looks to her to be a leader for others on the team.

“She’s a really tremendous leader in addition to being a very talented athlete,” Cianelli said. “That has really helped our younger athletes on the team. To be able to get the leadership and direction from someone who’s been as successful as her really means a lot. When you have someone of her ability and background speak up, people typically listen. She’s very team oriented and very interested in the team doing well as a whole.”

Harrison learned how important it was to be a leader from the senior class during her freshman year and knows how important it is to serve as a mentor for the underclassmen.

“I love my teammates looking up to me and being a leader, that’s something I pride myself on more than anytime I run,” Harrison said. 

Harrison’s ultimate goal for the remainder of this season and the upcoming one is to stay healthy. Last year, she was limited to just two meets after having multiple hamstring injuries.

“I’m really striving to be a national champion, but the NCAA title is something I really want to capture both indoor and outdoor,” she said.

Following graduation she looks to turn professional in order to continue her career.

“I’m just going to continue training,” Harrison said. “Luckily, I’ve been blessed with enough time so I can hopefully run professionally.”

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