In the hunt for nationals

Samuel Beaumonte, Staff Reporter

Seniors Dani Eggleston and Luke Plummer started the indoor track and field season with marks that hit the provisional mark for the NCAA Nationals meet on March 11.

“That doesn’t guarantee national competition. If they don’t hit the automatic, it’s up to the top 16 in the provisionals,” head coach Kevin Adkisson said.

Eggleston is competing in long distance events, such as the 3k and 5k runs, while Plummer is focusing on the triple jump.

“They’re both veteran All-Americans so it isn’t very unusual for them to hit provisionals so early. Once they hit it, their goal is to get to nationals,” Adkisson said. “It’s about shooting for the next goal. For Dani and Luke, it would be to shoot for the automatic entry.”

By setting provisional markings in the first meet of the season, Eggleston and Plummer started on the list of national qualifiers. For most athletes, it takes a while to get back into the best performance-level coming into the season.

“It’s nice to hit provisionals, but it’s nowhere near where I’d like to be,” Plummer said. “I’d like to be at 15 meters by the end of the season; I hit 15.6 last year so it’d be manageable. It’s a little more stressful coming back this year knowing that the potential is there and that I just need to reach that again.”

The pressure for an athlete to meet  and surpass the scores they made the year before can be motivating, but it’s up to the individual to set their personal goals and know their limitations.

“I think automatic [qualifying time] is a bit unrealistic, but I want to hit the top 20s to get to nationals,” Eggleston said. “I just kind of go out there and run. I think people overthink it too much and I try not to let [competition] get me too anxious.”

At the University of Washington Invitational this past weekend, Plummer managed to get close to his goal with a distance of 14.78 meters in triple jump, and Eggleston claimed her third school record.

Her first two are in the 5,000 meter run and the 3,000 meter steeplechase, but her latest achievement was running the 3,000 meter run in 9:49.85, beating the previous record by roughly six seconds, previously held by Alicen Maier with a time of 9:54.32.

“I’m looking to hit All-American again,” Eggleston said. “It’s hard to get to that point, and if I get eighth in nationals I’d be happy, but I’d like to get higher.”

In addition to her performance in the 3,000 meter run, Eggleston is looking forward to competitions in the 5,000.

“There’s not many 5k’s for indoors, so I have to wait for [University of Washington] invites and conferences,” Eggleston said. “I’ll be running the 3k and the mile while I wait since it helps with speed work. I’d like to make it to nationals in the 5k, and hopefully be able to earn All-American again.”