Track season is officially here, and all of the athletes are ready to compete.
For Sydni Willis, junior hurdler, this season is already off to a great start.
Willis was the only girl hurdler that competes for Texas State in the 400 meter relay, and has been practicing alone for the past two years.
This year is different. She now has a group of girls to practice with that share the same passion for running that Willis has.
Willis said there is something about showing up to practice every day that really motivates her.
“To be able to show up and know that everybody there is dedicated and that they really care enough to give it their all in practice, it’s refreshing,” Willis said. “I really like that because I haven’t been training with anybody for so long, and now there is a whole group of girls, not just one but four or five to practice with and they are all fast.”
Willis said it has really helped her become a better athlete because the girls balance out her endurance training with their speed.
She not only competes in individual hurdle events, but in a team sprinting event as well.
This season, the 4×400 meter relay that Willis competes in broke the school record at the Jaguar Invitational on Feb. 5.
The team is combined with Willis, Tramesha Hardy and Dawnshae Evans, sophomore sprinters, and DeAijha Hicks-Boyce, junior sprinter. The team turned in a meet record and a program best of 3:42.46 in the 4×400 meter relay.
Willis said the competiveness and the training that the team has can definitely take them all the way to nationals this season.
The 4×400 meter relay is not the only event in which she hopes to make it to nationals. Willis has her heart set on making it to nationals as an individual in hurdles.
“I really want to go for hurdles; I want to make it to nationals for hurdles more than anything,” Willis said. “It is something that I am actually focusing on, I am the only person doing it, as a girl at least. I feel like me being able to train myself, and working back and forth with my coaches, making it to nationals would be a blessing.”
Willis has worked harder now than she has these past two years. She struggles a little when she runs with the group, but it is only going to make her better.
“I can honestly say that the training that I had all fall semester is definitely paying off,” Willis said. “I surprise myself, more than I ever thought that I could. It just shows that I have a whole lot more left in me that I ever thought that I did.”
The women’s team is small compared to other big name schools, however the numbers don’t matter much when they continue to break records.
Everyone is on the same page when it comes to competition, the depth of the team doesn’t mean much because they are always ready to compete.
Willis said she knows that Texas State is no UT or Baylor when it comes to big name schools, but the Texas State women’s track and field team is making a name for themselves.
“Texas state is a bit of an underdog because people don’t expect much from us, because we aren’t such a big school,” Willis said. “No one can ever say it’s different, that we don’t compete. We don’t let that hinder us at all.”
When Willis hits the track, she does her best to try and stay focused. Even in practice, she likes to have the same mindset as she would if she were competing in a meet.
It is a bit difficult to stay on top of her training all the time with school and other activities going on, but she does her best to stay motivated on and off the track.
Willis said she has to be aggressive and focus on the little things to make sure that her mind is right.
“When I get on the blocks, at that point there is nothing else that I can do,” Willis said. “I have already done everything that I need to do, now I just need to get out there and compete and do what I love. In my mind I keep saying, ‘don’t think, just run.’”
Running track is never a business obligation, it is more of a community being brought together. Willis said she gets to see people from all over and compete, which makes it fun.
There are no hard feelings, and at the end of the day it is just pure joy for Willis. No one can ever tell her that track isn’t fun.
With the tremendous amount of support that Willis has from her family and friends, it’s important to push herself even in difficult situations because she never knows who is watching.
Willis said she has to maintain her faith, and keep on pushing.
“I can say that even when I am in the worst situation, I know that there is a blessing right around the corner,” Willis said.
The season has just begun and Willis is excited to see what it will bring for her. Through all of the ups and downs, she continues to push and make a name for herself.