After bringing home 22 top-10 finishes and breaking an array of school and personal records last weekend, the Racers had little time to celebrate before packing up to travel to Oxford, Miss., for the Ole Miss Open one week later.
The Racers excelled in hurdles, with junior sprinter Sharda Bettis setting the school record with a personal best time of 13.72 seconds. She said the performances in Bowling Green, Ky., were the first of more to come. She will compete in the 100-meter hurdles, the 100- and 200-meter dashes and the 4×100 relays at Ole Miss.
“I believe I can pull it off again,” Bettis said. “This is the first time I’m running the 4×4 this outdoor season, but I’m pretty confident we can get a good finish this weekend.”
Last season, Bettis was a standout for the team when she placed first in the 55-meter hurdles event at the OVC Indoor Championships. She also set the school record in the 60-meter hurdles at the Alex Wilson Invite when she was a sophomore.
With the majority of her personal bests set in outdoor events, this is the time of year when Bettis will continue to compete well for the team.
Bettis has one final season ahead of her after this spring. With her college career drawing closer to the end, she said she wants to break more records this weekend to kick off her final year running on a positive note.
“I set my foundation my freshman and sophomore year,” she said. “But now I’m starting to see all my hard work that I put in so early really pay off. I want to keep it up.”
Bettis will be one of many sprinters and jumpers to compete in Oxford this weekend. With a successful meet in Bowling Green, Head Coach Jenny Severns said it would be ideal to see the same performances at the Ole Miss Open.
“It is really hard to do that twice,” she said. “But everybody is really fit right now. I do not want to expect it, but I will not be shocked if it happens. They have all been working very hard, and some of their efforts are paying off.”
Coming into the sprint-based invitational, hurdles runners, sprinters and relay runners must be ready to see fit and hungry competition as teams are running for better spots in the OVC tournament. Severns said she is really confident in the Racers’ performances in the 100 hurdles.
“Bettis and LaShea Shaw are running 400 hurdles for the first time, but our 100 hurdles are looking really awesome,” she said. “(400 hurdles) is new to them, but they have progressed well and very quickly, which is nice.”
The Racers have been cohesive, at least placing in almost all events in all categories. With so many runners, jumpers and sprinters placing across the board, Severns said it is the small things that need improvement.
“There’s always things that we can work on,” she said. “Nothing is ever perfect. There’s always something little, but I don’t think there’s anything glaring at this point in the season. Sometimes, there will be runners who hiccup in a race, so it is small things.”
The Racers will compete today and Saturday at the Ole Miss Open in Oxford, Miss. They currently have two more meets to attend before the OVC Outdoor Championships.
Story by Carly Besser, Staff writer.