“It was exciting, fun and nerve-wracking. For me it was like the Olympics. I would absolutely do it again.”
That’s the description of track and field star Alexis Love’s experience while representing Murray State in last week’s NCAA Division-I Indoor Championships in Nampa, Idaho.
Love, a junior from Palmetto, Fla., completed a stellar indoor season for the Racers by coming in fifteenth in the qualifying 200-meter dash with a posted time of 23.85 seconds. The feat earned Love the honor of second-team All-American, which makes her the third track athlete to ever win All-American honors for Murray State.
The Racer said she was amazed at her opportunity to compete for an NCAA championship.
“I couldn’t believe it,” Love said. “Even until we were at the airport ready to go, I just couldn’t believe it. It feels great. I didn’t feel like the underdog. I was nervous, but I pray a lot and that helped me get calmed down before the race.”
Love said watching a little Sponge Bob Square Pants before a race didn’t hurt either.
Head Coach Jenny Severns reflected on the experience of preparing Love for a national competition.
“It was definitely a whirlwind,” Severns said. “We found out she was going (to nationals) on Monday at 6 p.m., and we left on Wednesday at noon. It was awesome. It almost feels like it didn’t really happen. It was my first experience at the national level for Division-I. It was a new experience for all of us.”
Severns doesn’t take credit for Love reaching the NCAAs.
“We (coaches) really didn’t do anything,” Severns said. “Alexis just ran her butt off. I told her, ‘Thanks, dude. I didn’t have to do anything and I get to go to nationals’.”
According to Severns, Love’s record season and appearance at the national level is a testament to her skill, especially in light of the competition.
“The indoor meet is so hard to get into,” Severns said. “There are really, really good athletes sitting at home that weekend. There are ridiculous athletes that don’t qualify for that meet, but we were there. We were told that four performances there last weekend would have medaled at the World Championships. That’s a big deal. It’s crazy to think of the level of competition that was there.”
The second-year coach said Love’s accomplishment should be a boost to the track and field program.
“I hope this is something we will come to expect,” Severns said. “Qualifying for indoor is so hard, but I hope we can get to the point where our athletes expect to get to the NCAAs, whether that is in indoor, cross country or wherever.
“It’s crazy to think how one really good day can have such a great impact on a program, but it really can.”
Love said her goals now focus on the outdoor season but expects to make it back to the indoor nationals next year.
“Next year my goal is to make it to nationals again,” she said. “I know what it feels like and I know I can make it. I won’t be as nervous, now I know I can run at that level. I feel so confident going into outdoor I don’t want to stop – I don’t want to be the girl who was good only in indoor, I want to be good the whole year.”
Severns knows she is coaching a special athlete in Love.
Severns said: “I told Alexis, ‘no matter what, you’re always going to be Alexis Love, national qualifier’.”