Anna Sloan was a speed demon on the football field and basketball court but didn’t know how fast she was, until she stepped onto a track. The Trinity High School sophomore has run times in the 100 and 200 meter dashes that would qualify for the state meet. “I found a new talent inside me.”

That talent was a bit raw, when Anna joined the track team in freshman year. “I had very bad form,” Anna said of her hunched-over posture. So, her mother, Julianne, enlisted the services of Matt Beisel, Concordia College’s men’s track coach. He put her through drills, like running with a weighted vest and pushing a heavy cart, to improve her strength and stamina.

Anna trained twice a week with Beisel, from August to December, doing assigned workouts on her days off. The one-hour sessions didn’t just improve her form, they helped her starts. “My block starts weren’t powerful.” Anna gained explosiveness by pushing off to jump over a barrier. Jumping over small hurdles helped her breathing and endurance. The results were spectacular. “I won 16 medals in freshman year,” Anna recalled, “I missed going downstate by two-tenths of a second.”

Success in the sprints wasn’t the only benefit Anna found in track. “The team is very close. I’ve made some good friends.” This was especially important, because Anna was the only member of her Middle School class to attend Trinity. She recently won “Trinity Blazer of the Month” in recognition of her leadership abilities.

Meanwhile, Anna displayed her blazing speed in the 100, 200 and, track’s most demanding event, the 400 meters. “Breathing in the 400 is very painful,” Anna said of the one-lap sprint. Anna also anchors the 4 X 100 and 4 X 200 relay teams. “The handoffs are really important.” Especially on a team that lost so many seniors from last season.

This year, Anna has finished first in several indoor events, like the 55 meter sprint. She has also recorded personal bests in the 100, 200 and 400. “I’m hoping to go to state in the 100 and 200. I want to keep running through college.”

Receiving a track scholarship is a real possibility. Thanks in part to Title IX; female athletes like Anna are in great demand. Colleges are also looking for well-rounded students and Anna fits that description. She works hard at her studies, enjoys school social activities and has a wide range of interests. Like her mother, she’s an avid fan of professional sports – the NFL in particular.

Anna’s not thinking of college just yet. She’s content to be a sophomore finding unexpected success in a new sport. As for career possibilities, Anna wants to become an athletic trainer. Her coach apparently taught her some motivational techniques while she was circling the track at Concordia.

John Rice

John Rice is a columnist/novelist who has seen his family thrive in Forest Park. He has published two books set in the village: The Ghost of Cleopatra and The Doll with the Sad Face.