Every athlete wants to start their season on a winning note.
Although some insist momentum is meaningless, it’s hard to argue that a win puts you into the right frame of mind.
For Karleigh Parker, the College Avenue graduate and Western Kentucky University junior, there’s nothing like breaking your own record at the first meet of the season to set the tone for 2014.
Parker, 21, smashed the WKU indoor pole vaulting record, which she also owned, with a 3.9-metre jump Dec. 3 at the Music City Challenge NCAA Division 1 meet in Nashville, Tenn.
“Having broke this record at my first meet of the season in my junior year is a great indication of how my indoor junior year will go,” Parker wrote via email. “I think that breaking this record right off the bat will give me some much needed confidence coming into 2014.”
Parker previously set the record Feb. 25, 2012 at the Sun Belt Conference Indoor Track and Field Championship, but has battled through injuries since her freshman season.
“Having that record stand for two years and not having broke it again was very frustrating,” she wrote. “My jumping has been a roller coaster over the last two years with injuries and getting back into the groove of things.”
Any broken record is satisfying for every athlete, but for Parker having dealt with injuries the last two years it was all the more sweeter.
In her freshman season a stress fracture developed in her shins during the start of the 2012 outdoor season, causing her to miss weeks in a short season and have it linger since.
“This was very tough to handle and even more rough to get the confidence back to jump again,” she wrote. “Being off for so long (in 2012) put a huge damper on my training and my confidence. I ended the sophomore outdoor season on a great note (making NCAA Regionals), so I’m hoping to continue.”
As one of the most frustrating injuries for any athlete since healing only comes from rest with an unpredictable time frame, Parker said her shins have drastically improved after having lived with the injury for nearly two years.
“I used to not be able to walk without constant pain shooting down my lower leg – it was rough,” she wrote of her shin issues. “Now, I’m managing the preventive measures quite well, so it hasn’t affected me much.”
With rest being the only cure and a reoccurrence always a possibility diligence is vital in preventing further damage, but with athletes thriving off the competition of athletics, and Parker no different, it’s easier said than done.
“It’s like I have no choice,” she wrote of fighting through the injury. “I’m a competitive person and hate to just sit there and not be able to do anything. I can sit there and feel sorry for myself, but that won’t get me anywhere. I just have to push through it until I can’t run anymore. I know my breaking point. I know when to make the smart decision to stop without further injuring myself.”
Having already broke her own record early on, she’s not short on goals for the upcoming year, which she hopes will see more records broken.
“My main goal for the 2014 (indoor) season is to break the Sunbelt Conference indoor record (which is 4.15-metres),” she wrote. “This goal is definitely attainable looking at my performance from my five left approach.
“For my outdoor season, my goal is to make it to outdoor nationals,” she continued. “Last year my goal was to make it to regionals, which I did. This year, I’d like to improve my placing make it to NCAA outdoor nationals.”
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