Since her freshman year at UC Irvine, Lauren Collins has been consistently teased by her teammates for being left behind on the team bus up to Palo Alto for the Stanford Invitational. She was so close that she saw the bus drive away from her, but still had to find another way to make the 403-mile trip.
This track season, Collins has been tearing it up. She was named Big West Female Field Athlete of the Week last week, the second time she’s received that honor this year and the third time in her career. And get this: she’s only a sophomore.
Collins set a new school record with 5,446 points in the Mt. SAC Relays Heptathlon at Azusa Pacific last week. Collins broke the 20-year-old record that was set by former UCI star Karin Grelsson, who recorded 5,367 points in 1987.
Yes, Collins is a heptathlete. She competes in seven events: high jump, shot put, long jump, javelin throw, 100-meter hurdles, 200-meters and 800-meters.
She only competed in hurdles and high jump in high school, but when she got to UCI she changed things up. Out of frustration with competing in only single events, and already having mastered the two most technical events, she decided to add more to her repertoire.
‘I hated sitting down and waiting for events,’ Collins said. ‘Track meets can be a bit boring. I figured I have two difficult ones down, why not try other events? That would keep me active and busy.’
Becoming competitive in each event was not easy for Collins.
‘Over the summer I put more time into staying in shape and weight lifting. I changed my diet, which I think helped a lot. I was definitely more focused and I believe that helped me become more successful,’ Collins said.
The hard work has definitely paid off. Collins holds the top marks in 2007 for javelin throw, 100 meter hurdles and the high jump. She is also in the top three in three other events. In addition to her record in heptathlon, she holds the all-time high jump record at UCI.
Not only is she a dedicated athlete, but she is also very compassionate.
‘My coaches have been so awesome this year,’ Collins said. ‘They have been there at every moment on the track. They have been extremely supportive and helpful. I could not have been here without them.’
As a sophomore, Collins still has two more years to establish herself as one of the best. If she continues the progress and success she has exhibited in the past and current seasons, that goal should not be far out of reach.
With the NCAA championships in Sacramento creeping up, Collins is focused and ready to compete.
Unlike the people in the bus ride to Stanford, Collins’ opponents will be seeing her from behind.
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