Alexis Love isn’t racing the runners lined up next to her anymore. Love is tracking down Hall of Famers and chasing history.
A look at past records for Murray State track and field begins and ends with one person: Heather Samuel. Samuel’s resume includes being named OVC Women’s Track Athlete of the Year in 1992, 1993 and 1994, leading to her induction into the Murray State University Athletic Hall of Fame in 2004. An Olympic athlete, Samuel holds multiple school records, although not as many as she once did.
Love is close on her heels.
On March 3, Love broke Samuel’s 200-meter indoor record of 24.02 with a run of 23.66. On March 31, she came within .08 seconds of Samuel’s mark in the outdoor 200-meter with a time of 23:18. That same day, Love ran an 11:42 in the 100-meter outdoor, a mark that came within .42 seconds of Samuel’s blistering 11:00 record.
Love’s rival is the clock; the other athletes just happen to be running at the same time.
Always looking to top the last perfomance, Love sets high goals to keep the competition from setting her pace.
“I race the clock,” said Love. “I don’t ever race the people next to me. I don’t have my coaches read me their times because I don’t want to know. I don’t want to know who’s next to me and what they’re running. I just want to keep that same mindset that I’ve just got to get out here and give it my all.”
Her all is fast. Blazing fast. Love’s time of 23:18 in the 200-meter currently qualifies her for competition in nationals at year’s end and is the second best recorded time in the nation thus far.
A brief conversation with Love tells you all you need to know about her as a contender. She’s soft-spoken but competitive. She’s quiet but determined.
“I’m humble but hungry,” she said. “I just want to keep getting better.”
She is also delightful. It’s almost as if she doesn’t quite realize she is in the conversation with truly great athletes.
“I knew I was good and I could run at the collegiate level, but I didn’t know I could be one of the top collegiate athletes,” Love said. “I knew I had the potential to do it. I never doubted myself. When I broke (Samuel’s) first record, I thought ‘I want to meet her; she’s fast.’ I didn’t come here thinking I was going to break records.”
“I don’t want to let myself down,” she said. “I want to walk away knowing I gave it my all. I pray before all my races. That’s a big thing for me. My family – I’m so far away from home – I just want to make them proud. I’m dedicated. I know I can be successful. I don’t feel like I have days off, and I’m OK with that. I feel like I’m really blessed.”
Samuel might want to enjoy her records while she can. Love seems like a Racer on a mission.
“(The records for) the 100 and 200 are going to be a challenge, but I think I can get them,” Love said. “I was really close to the 200. Those times are really fast, but I’m really fast.”
Samuel’s impressive school records have stood since 1994. Time will tell if they will survive the season of Love.