Dec. 11, 2019
Runners Kellian Hunt and Anika Gasner, both seniors on Biola University’s track and field team, are striving to finish their last season strong despite injuries. After taking home the women’s National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics [NAIA] national championship for cross country in fall 2015, Hunt, a computer science major, suffered from a foot injury she feared could be the end of her track and field career.
“That was a big disappointment to get injured my second to last season, but it’s a very demanding sport, with a lot of repetitive movement and it starts to wear down your body,” said Hunt. “You can’t train at the level that we do and not have a few injuries.”
Hunt recovered more quickly than expected and proved she wouldn’t be kept down for long when she stepped in for Gasner, who was injured two days before the NAIA Indoor Track & Field Championships, and competed in her place. Gasner, a communications major, and Hunt are now both recovered and look forward to finishing out the season together.
Hunt has been a member of the track and field team since her freshman year. She’s competed all four years at cross country nationals and was headed to indoor nationals for the third time when she injured her foot.
In late January, Hunt was diagnosed with plantar fasciitis — an extremely painful type of repeated bruising to the heel — that took her off her feet for four weeks, leaving her unable to compete or qualify for any of her individual indoor track events.
“There was a lot of confusion and frustration at first because I didn't know how long it would last,” said Hunt. “I didn't even know what it was for a long time, there was concern that I wouldn’t be able to do any more running for the rest of my senior year.”
However, only two weeks back into training, Hunt got her chance to compete when she was asked to step in for fellow teammate. Gasner — who made All-American at the cross country national meet in fall 2015 — has competed all four years and was preparing to compete for the fourth time at the indoor national meet, which was held in Tennessee this year, when she fell and broke her elbow in a practice only two days before the meet.
Hunt stepped in as an alternate. She ran on the relay teams for the 4x800-meter relay and the distance medley relay finishing in 5th and 6th place, and hit both her qualifying marks individually to compete in the women’s 1,500-meters and 5,000-meters events at the NAIA Outdoor Track and Field Championships in May 2016.
“It’s definitely been encouraging to hit the times so quickly, I don’t think I've ever hit the outdoor qualifiers so early in the season,” said Hunt. ”I still have work to do as far as getting to where my [personal records] are, but we’re getting there.”
Gasner also made a strong recovery, getting back on the track for the 30th Annual Pomona-Pitzer Track and Field Invite where she qualified for two of her events for outdoor nationals. She went on to compete at the San Francisco State Distance Carnival finishing in 32nd place out of 139 competitors in the 1,500 in 4 minutes, 39 seconds and qualifying for her last event.
Both women say the support and encouragement of their team was a huge part of their ability to come back so strongly. Hunt says when she was cross training for the four weeks before coming back it was the encouragement of her teammates that allowed her to stay on track.
“I wasn’t getting discouraged because everybody was saying ‘No, no it’s ok,” said Hunt. “You’re gonna get back to where you were before.’”
As the season draws to an end both women are sticking with the goals they had before getting injured, looking toward nationals and working on personal records. Right now, Gasner is focusing on breaking 4:30 in the 1,500 and Hunt hopes to break 16:00 in the 5k with an individual outdoor national championship as the ultimate goal.
“I’m a long way off of that, but I was racing with girls in cross country that had done it, so I guess that would be my goal to get to that point,” said Hunt.
Written by Daryn Daniels, iBiola intern. For more information, contact Jenna Loumagne, media relations specialist, at (562) 777-4061 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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