By Mya Hudgins, Contributing Writer
Oklahoma Baptist University’s outdoor track and field season has finally started.
The first outdoor meet was home, early this month. Off to a great start, the women had 41 NCCAA Outdoor National Championship qualifiers and the men had 18 qualifying standards. Sophomore Emily Sechrist won the 5000-meter race with a time of 18:44.39.
“The first outdoor meet was a lot of fun,” Sechrist said. “There’s always a different kind of anticipation and nervous excitement at the first meet of the season, and it was cool having it at our home track. Despite the high winds and that it was our first outdoor meet, it was a great start to the season.”
Sechrist was introduced to running in middle school and since then has decided to continue her running career in college.
“I actually hated running long distances when I was younger,” she said. “I would race sprints against the boys at recess, but I remember crying when I had to run the mile in P.E. My parents made us participate in a sport every season in middle school. Track was the only option in the spring, so I went out for that.”
Sechrist said she considered herself a sprinter until she ran the mile and found out she was better at the longer races. During her freshman year in high school, Sechrist decided to try out for cross country. She won state in cross country and in the two-mile that spring. Now she brings her talent to the OBU track and field team.
“I didn’t really have a team in high school, so a close-knit, talented, and dedicated team is what I looked for when I was deciding where to go to college,” she said.
“At OBU, I’ve found a Christ-centered, committed group of athletes that has enhanced my athletic experience so much.
“It is cool to be a part of a group of athletes pursuing the same goal, and encouraging each other in the process.”
As Sechrist came into a dedicated team, she said that she wants to help make the team better spiritually, emotionally and physically.
“I hope to be a good example and influence on the team as someone who works hard in everything that I am involved in, and as a follower of Christ,” she said.
“Competing in three different seasons (cross-country, indoor and outdoor track) can be exhausting; mentally and physically. I want to encourage others to push themselves and stay motivated when it’s tough,” Sechrist said.
Freshman Daisy Vanmeter said she has looked up to Sechrist ever since she met her and the team.
“She has always been such a Christ-like example for me,” Vanmete said. “She’s easy to talk to and I always know that I can go to her for anything, not just running related.”
Freshman Ashley Ellis said she had the same experience upon meeting Sechrist for the first time.
“She always checked on me anytime I was sick or missed practice. She has always been super encouraging to me and the team,” Ellis said.
Sechrist doesn’t like setting goals for herself, but she does have hopes for success.
“I don’t love setting goals that depend on other people, or on things outside of my control, but it would be really cool to win Nationals in Steeplechase again,” Sechrist said.
“I also want to break 11 minutes in steeple. Outside of running specifically, I want to try to be a more intentional and encouraging teammate. It’s so easy for me to get wrapped up in my own races and results, but I want to be more caring and encouraging to my teammates and their races.”
Running has helped Sechrist in her walk with Christ and has taught her many life lessons.
“I’ve been a Christian since I was young, but I’m learning every day what it looks like to deny myself and actively pursue Christ in all areas of my life,” she said.
“Running is such a good analogy for a relationship with Christ because there are highs and lows in both. Also, in a race and in your walk with Christ, you’re always either moving closer or further away from ‘the prize.’ You’re never just standing still. You have to work hard and make the decision every day to pursue success in running, just like you do in a relationship with Christ,” Sechrist said.
She said she gives God the glory for her talent with which He blessed her.
“I’ve learned that I can use the gift God has given me of running to glorify Him,” she said. “Unfortunately, it’s easy to make it an idol because of the time and dedication it takes to be successful, but I’m constantly reminded that my ability isn’t mine. He can take it away and do with it what He wants.”