Harper sets school track record

The UNA women’s track team has competed in six events this season, one of which involved a short-distance specialist breaking a school record.

With a time of 1:00.2 seconds in a 400-meter dash, sophomore Sarah Harper set the school record for fastest time in that category Feb. 7 at the Birmingham CrossPlex Arena.

“I had a feeling like I broke (the record),” Harper said. “I mean it helps that there is a giant clock that shows our time, but our assistant coach Erin Covington confirmed it when she came over and hugged me saying that I broke the record.”

In UNA’s most recent track event, the Gamecock Quad Meet at Jacksonville State University, Harper continued her success after finishing second in the 400-meter dash with a 1:00.55 time and fifth in the 200-meter dash at 27.75.

As Harper surpasses her own times at each event, her teammates are taking notice, said senior Marlah Stancil.

“Sarah is extremely driven and competitive, even when it comes to just practicing, but even more so when it comes to racing in meets,” Stancil said. “She currently holds the team’s record for the 400-meter and has broken her personal record several times this season.”

Harper began competing in track late in her high school career as a senior at Fairview High School. Since she did not run cross-country in high school and waited until her final year of high school to run track, Harper said she was surprised to get an opportunity on the college level.

“It was really strange for Coach (Scott) Trimble to take a chance on me and give me a scholarship for cross-country,” Harper said. “I had never really ran cross-country before and had just stared running (track), but I am so glad he did. It’s just a blessing in my life.”

As the women’s track team continues to grow since its establishment in 2012, Stancil said runners like Harper will keep the team in good shape.

“Being a new track team that was only established four years ago, we are constantly working to beat our own times and to establish new goals for not only ourselves, but for future recruits as well,” she said.

The team will look to replace four graduating seniors next season, but expects Harper to become one of the team’s leaders, said assistant coach Erin Covington.

“Sarah will have no problem stepping into that (leadership) role,” Covington said. “Girls will want to follow her because of how passionate she is about running.”

Harper and the team will compete next at Mountain Laurel Invitational at Sewanee, Tennessee, April 15. The following week, the Lions will compete in the Gulf South Conference Championships in Clinton, Mississippi, April 21-23.