She may from nearby Elkins, but Grace Heymsfield has come a long way from her days training at a school with no track. She’s now setting records for the University of Arkansas.
“Grace was from a small town in Elkins, but she was a 22 time state champion,” Lance Harter, Arkansas distance coach said.
That’s what brought Heymsfield to the University of Arkansas where she is still bringing home championships. Now the junior is doing it in an event that she never ran before becoming a Hog. It’s an event that many might not know of.
“Steeplechase is a 3, 000 meter race, which is a little under 2 miles,” Heymsfield said. “There are 28 dry barriers, and then there are seven water jumps. So 35 total jumps. It’s a lot of fun but it’s really hard.”
Going into it, she was unsure what it even was.
“It’s not a well known thing. I actually knew it as the horse racing event,” Heymsfield said.
But, she has been excelling in it. For the second consecutive year Heymsfield has won the steeple chase at the SEC Championships, and just blew the competition away at the NCAA prelims.
“You can kind of feel people close to you, and I didn’t feel anyone close, and I could hear them reaching the water barrier behind me, but you never want to relax too much. So I just decided to focus on my pace instead of where they were at,” Heymsfield said.
She finished nearly half a lap ahead of the rest of the pack. But when she gets to Eugene, Ore. for the NCAA Championships this weekend, there will be even stiffer competition.
“The NCAA meet is going to be very exciting. The Olympian from the University of Colorado is outstanding, So we’ll have our work cut out with someone like that. But, she was seventh last year. I think Grace always keeps things in perspective, I just want to get better,” Harter said.
And she has since her days in Elkins.