Last weekend’s Tom Farrell Classic, St. John’s University’s annual home meet, was business as usual for senior sprinter Leah Anderson, who captured both the 200- and 400-meter races. After last year’s outdoor track and field season was cancelled due to COVID-19 and this year’s indoor season was short, Anderson is finally feeling back in her competitive groove.
“Extremely happy. It feels so good to actually go outside and race,” said Anderson, who has been a standout for St. John’s since her freshman year. Although Anderson kept up a strict training regimen at home when the St. John’s campus was cleared in March 2020, not competing slowed the steady and impressive progress she’d been making throughout college.
“I feel I had a breakthrough,” said Anderson, who has set a new personal best in the 400 this outdoor track season. “I finally am having this eureka moment where I see, ‘I’m actually fast.’ I can go somewhere beyond collegiate track and grow as an athlete and get better and better. I don’t have to stop after college.”
Back on campus since the fall semester, Anderson also remains focused on her studies, with three of her five courses still virtual. An illustration major, she’s at ease with online learning. With all the athletes getting another year of eligibility, it’s likely she will compete again next year, finishing her bachelor’s degree in the fall and then starting her master’s degree.
Anderson also has pro track ambitions, but that’s in the future. For now, there is collegiate competition and hopefully the Olympic Trials. She said she and her Red Storm teammates push each other to be better. “We’re all vibing off of each other; it’s a good atmosphere,” said Anderson.
Anderson said it seems like yesterday that she was running her freshman meets, but when she looks back at the last four years, she’s seen the progress she’s made as a student-athlete. “I’m definitely much more confident,” she said. “I’ve grown so much as an individual. … That’s all thanks to track, honestly, and having a good team and support system.”
She encourages her teammates to follow associate head coach Aliann Pompey’s regimen and believe in themselves. “I tell my team, ‘We can do this,’” said Anderson. “If you let doubt in just a little bit it causes you to do less than your best.”
Next up for St. John’s track and field are the Big East Championships May 14 and 15.