Track Q&A: Emma Engelland

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Emma Engelland is a freshman on the Pepperdine women's track team. Although she doesn't have a very long running history and it's her first year of running track at the college level, she's had an incredibly strong start and set the school record in the 100-meter hurdles. She reflects on her first season as well as her goals going forward.

Emma  Engelland

Q: So you set a school record in your first season here at Pepperdine! How does having that achievement so early on feel for you?

A: It is such an honor to be able to contribute to the team in a way such as this. It is very rewarding and validating to achieve big goals, but ultimately it is a reminder of how well I am coached and supported.  My coaches have put so much energy and thought into my training and my teammates have kept me accountable and supported me every step of the way. I am extremely proud to be a part of this team and this amazing group of women.

Q: You initially set the record, but it wasn't allowed due to a wind-aided time, before you came back and set it officially. Was it disappointing running fast but not being able to set the record because of the technicality?

A: I remember running across the finish line, and I could tell it was going to be a fast time. I immediately looked up at my coach and she yelled down to me from the stands that I had gotten it, but it was wind-aided. In that moment, I was frustrated, but I knew that I couldn't control the wind. I controlled what I could, and there was no use dwelling on the rest. That race validated the training that I had been doing and made me excited to run again the next week.

Q: How did it feel to set the record that next week after losing out on the technicality the first week? Did it make the achievement more special or better?

A: After running my wind-aided time, I started researching online how much the wind improves times. Of course this was silly and unnecessary, but I was worried I wouldn't be able to PR again the next week. At UCLA a week later, when I crossed the finish line and saw my time, it was a pretty cool feeling. It felt good to claim the record for real just seven days later. Also I have to give a huge shout out to my teammates and coach for being so incredibly supportive at that meet. They made me feel so special and were so proud of me. Nothing's better than being recognized by those you look up to most. They are pretty incredible people.

Q: What is your background with running?

A: My path is different than most in that I actually haven't been running for very long. In middle school I did track for a couple years, but only ran my senior year of high school. I was blessed with great coaching for that year and quickly picked up hurdling, along with a passion for the sport. I am extremely humbled to have the opportunity to run in college. It was never part of the plan, but it has certainly become one of the biggest blessings in my life.

Q: What led you to choose to come to Pepperdine and run for Pepperdine?

A: I was interested in Pepperdine for many of the same reasons as many other students: the study abroad programs, the class and school size, the quality of education and the incredible professors. But I didn't make my decision until I stepped on the campus. I felt so safe and comfortable, and was just struck by its incredible beauty. Because I only ran my senior year, track was almost an after-thought, to be honest. When I applied, I didn't even know I was going to be running track in high school. Coach Rad was great though, and helped me to feel like despite my lack of experience, I could run here.

Q: Has it been an adjustment at all coming here to Pepperdine and running track now in college?

A: I have certainly grown and changed a lot this year, and it would be untruthful to say it has been a walk in the park, but I have absolutely loved my time here so far. I have found the transition to be fairly smooth, no doubt in part because of my team, who acts as my family here on campus. I love my busy schedule and practices and classes so it makes the constant activity worth it.

Q: How have you liked your teammates?

A: I cannot speak highly enough about this group of girls. This team is without a doubt the best group I have ever had the privilege of belonging to. These girls are so passionate about our sport, but also about school and each other. They are the type of girls that ask how you are doing, and stick around for the answer. I can never repay them for all the listening ears and advice and even the snarky comments they so frequently send my way. Truly, I am blown away by the way they live their lives and I am inspired by each one of them.

Q: How have you liked running for these coaches?

A: Both Coach Rad and Coach V have been incredibly supportive, but Coach V is our sprint coach, so I spend much more time with her. She is an amazing leader, teacher, athlete and coach. She is so transparent with us and while her expectations are very high, she never jeopardizes our well-being for our performance. She treats us so well and really takes the time to understand each of her athletes learning styles to be able to best serve them. It is an honor to train under her.

Q: What are your goals going forward?

A: One thing Coach V always reminds me to do is to have fun. I often become so focused that I forget to enjoy the incredible sport I get to do every day. I am working towards being able to relax and enjoy my time here. I would love one last PR at the meet in Long Beach, but then my job is just to heal up and stay in shape over the summer.

Q: Is there anything else you want to say or reflect on as you go into your last meet this season?

A: I would just like to thank the seniors, Izzy, Gabby, Tori, and Kendall. From the bottom of my heart I want to thank you four for what you have done for this team and for instilling the pride you have in it in the underclassmen. You have been incredible leaders and role models, on and off the track. Thank you for showing me what it is to work so hard and have so much fun and love people so well. Each of you are going to make waves in the world and it has been such a privilege to get to walk with you this year. Thank you for entrusting your team to us. I promise we will take good care of it.

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