Exams are done and the track and field team at St. John’s University doesn’t compete again until mid-January, but sprinter Leah Anderson is training intently. The illustration major began her collegiate career strong and has shown sustained excellence for the Red Storm, but the pandemic interrupted her competitive opportunities with no outdoor season in 2020 and an abbreviated indoor season in 2021.
With an extra year of eligibility granted by the NCAA, Anderson has her sights firmly set on having excellent indoor and outdoor seasons. She began strong earlier this month with wins in the 60- and 500-meter races at the Bill Ward Invitational at the Ocean Breeze Athletic Complex on Staten Island.
“Even though I knew the people and I’m familiar with the track, it still felt a little nerve-racking,” said Anderson of the indoor season opener. “I had to remember how to hit the turns. Getting back into it is really exciting.”
Anderson is taking all her experiences over the last four years as well as all she’s learned and making this season memorable. “Going all out from the beginning,” she said. “I’m not going to wait until the end of the season to try and PR [personal record]. I’m going to attempt to run my best 400 as soon as possible.”
Anderson said she will be very smart with how she runs and what competitions she attends. In terms of practice, she’s doing a lot of conditioning for the 400 meters, which is her strongest event. Not only is she spending time on the track, she’s also spending more time in the gym.
“Where I would have quit before, I keep going,” Anderson said. “I’m a lot stronger than I’ve ever been. I can see it.”
Surrounded by freshmen, Anderson definitely has a leadership role on the team. “Yes, we want to win,” she said. “[I tell them] as long as you’re taking the losses and learning from them…and are able to focus and not have that one loss destroy your whole mindset for the rest of the meet because you might have two or three events.”
For indoor season, Anderson wants to make it to the NCAA Division I Indoor Track and Field Championship in the 400 meters, which means being among the top 16 women in the country. For the outdoor season, she wants to improve her time and make it to the NCAA Championships in Oregon.
“Being better than I was previously and making it all the way,” she said. “I want more to my name.”