By Jennilyn Howell
Bishop England senior Jeanne Stroud went into the Coaches Classic meet on March 27 with one thing on her mind, breaking the school record in the 1600-meter run.
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It’s a goal that she’s been chasing since her sophomore year, and after winning the event with a time of 5 minutes, 22.49 seconds, almost two seconds faster than the record, she was glowing with enthusiasm.
“I was about to cry,” Stroud said after the race. “It’s a record that’s just been eating me up.”
She had been keeping an eye on the record since she started her track career, and made it a permanent goal once she started to get within a reasonable distance of 5:24.
Coaches Classic gave her the extra push she needed to win the event with a new personal record. She prepared for the race by eating right and drinking plenty of water, and her excitement helped propel her past her competition.
Stroud reflected back on the race in a recent interview.
“I was ecstatic! That was my main goal, what I had been training so hard for,” she said. “I had given everything I had in all my practices in order to reach that goal, so it was just a wonderful feeling to see the reward for that effort.”
Stroud then aimed high and sought to finish the event under 5:20. Just two weeks after Coaches Classic, she set a new personal record in the event at the Father Kelly Classic with a time of 5 minutes, 19.63 seconds. She finished second in the race, just three tenths behind winner Sara Manesiotis of Hilton Head.
“I thought it would take me a couple races to shave off those couple of seconds, but the combination of my home track, great competition and perfect running weather set me up for a 5:19,” she said. “I’m very excited to see the benefits of all my time and effort!”
She also captured the school record in the 3200-meter run at the Father Kelly Classic with a time of 11 minutes, 38.34 seconds.
Her senior year of competition has trained her to do well in more than one race and she is excited to be excelling in both the 1600-meters and the 3200-meters.
Stroud credits a lot of her success to the support of her family and friends. Her parents show a strong interest in running and are always encouraging her. And her brothers cheer her on and sometimes bring their friends to her track meets. Even her friends who don’t run come out to support her at meets.
“When I broke the school record in the mile, I had three or four friends hug-tackle me, and one made me a cake!” Stroud recalled. “With this many people supporting me, it’s hard to not do my best!”
Her interest in running began when she played other sports; running was the only thing she loved about basketball. At age 10, she went to a few cross country practices to watch her brother Lawton and was “hooked.” She was excited to get to high school and start running.
Now that she has captured the school record in the 1600-meter, Stroud focuses on her PRs and the underclassmen on the Bishop England team.
“Doing my personal best is really all I can ask of myself,” she said. “As for the team, we are all focused on keeping the Bishop England traditions alive. We seniors are trying to teach the younger athletes to have pride in themselves and in the team.”
She hopes to pass down her positive attitude to the underclassmen because she wants them to be passionate about doing their best and to “invest their hearts” into running.
As the end of the season draws closer, Stroud is focusing on helping the team defend their state title. But she is also eager to begin a new phase of her career.
She will follow in her grandmother’s and great aunt’s footsteps by attending Winthrop University in the fall, where she will study education. The choice was between Winthrop and Furman, but Winthrop was the final decision because head track coach Ben Paxton and the professors on campus were very welcoming. Stroud was also impressed by Winthrop’s education program.
“I am very excited to be running for [Winthrop},” she said. “I can’t wait to take my training and racing to that next level.”
By Jennilyn Howell