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ASU sprinter Sierra Irvin makes a name for herself in freshman year

How ASU track and field sprinter Sierra Irvin rose to one of the top runners for the women's sprint team

ASU's Sierra Irvin jumps out of the blocks in the 400-meter dash during the second day of the 2016 Pac-12/Big Ten Invitational track meet at Sun Angel Stadium in Tempe, Arizona, on Saturday, March 26, 2016.
ASU's Sierra Irvin jumps out of the blocks in the 400-meter dash during the second day of the 2016 Pac-12/Big Ten Invitational track meet at Sun Angel Stadium in Tempe, Arizona, on Saturday, March 26, 2016.

It’s extremely tough for an athlete to maintain consistency in college after being a high school athletic stud. Track and field freshman Sierra Irvin was able to make that leap thanks to what she said was her strong base and hard work from high school.

Irvin started running track when she was a kid, but she set herself apart from the competition in high school. She holds the school records in the 55 m, 100 m, 200 m, 300 m, 400 m, 4x100 m, 4x200 m, 4x400 m, 4x800 m and long jump. 

It was during this time that the Massachusetts native put in the work to establish her base that would help adjust to college. She talked with her coaches to help build a plan to improve not only her speed and her endurance.

"Just longer reps, like 600s, 400s," Irvin said. "A lot of those for our workouts, then also just the shorter stuff like 60s, 30s to work on speed."

Many athletes would prefer to tone down the grind of the grueling workload as high school nears a close, but Irvin didn't let the intense workout break her love of the sport.

“There were times where I definitely was like, 'I am so tired I need some time off,'” Irvin said. "But there's definitely never a time where I wanted to walk away, I just love it so much. I know that what I put into it is going to be helpful for me in the future, so that's what I think of it."

Upon graduation, many schools in her home state offered her scholarships. She elected to cross the country and compete at ASU. She said the Sun Devils' training program and the Arizona weather convinced her to attend ASU.

At the beginning of the season, the freshman wasn’t in the top running heats. However, due to some of the top runners getting injured and how Irvin ran during the season, she has become one of the top runners for the ASU women's sprint team. This led to her being the lead off runner for the 4x400 m relays.

She's competing against another top runner in sprints: junior LaTroya Franklin. Franklin said she's proud of how well Irvin has done this season.

“She really stepped up out of everybody,” Franklin said. “She knew I was out, but she really took a big step and as a freshman, that’s a good look on her because she runs fearless, like she go gets it because she has to.”

However, Irvin did not come into the season as an immediate star. She still needed to get herself ready to compete in big meets like the Sun Angel Classic or the Pac-12 vs Big-10 invitational, which she said her coaches help take her to the next level in competition.

“It really has helped me,” Irvin said. "I've never really had a coach to push me in workouts if I'm not really slacking off, but not doing as well as I need to. They're really good at communicating that and just pushing me as hard as I can."

ASU head coach Greg Kraft said he saw potential in Irvin, and expected her to run well throughout the season. He said that he thinks she'll drop her time to the 53-second range.

Additionally, he added that freshmen often tire when they transition from high school coaching styles to collegiate.

“I think they're kind of in a constant state of fatigue, and I think when she backs off for our championship part of our season, I think you'll see dramatic drops in her times," he said.

Irvin has become a solid runner for the Sun Devils, and hopes to continue rising toward the top. Her fearless running and effort to step up when the team needed her inspired other athletes. Franklin said she can see that, especially when the younger athletes watch her run lead in the 4x400.

“They see her running her heart out so it tells them, 'Ok if she can do it, then I can do it too.'”

Related links:

Jenna Maack, Adriana Olivias come up short in Stanford Invitational

ASU track and field men finish third, women place fifth in Big-10 vs. Pac-12 Invitational


Reach the reporter at osoussi@asu.edu or follow @omarksoussi on Twitter.

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