April 14, 2009
By Emily Rooney
When Amanda Andrews beat her 1500m lifetime-best time by nine seconds at the UCLA Johnson/Joyner-Kersee meet April 11, she would not have even guessed it.
"My goal is to run and get better every time, but this nine-second gap, I didn't even know what to say afterwards, I was amazed, ecstatic," Andrews said.
Her coach was less than surprised. "That was a really big milestone for her. I knew she was going to run a good one, but I was hoping for under 4:35, so 4:32 is pretty good," Coach Jason Drake said of Andrews' run.
Thinking she would compete in the 1500m and maybe something longer, Andrews came to Washington State from Gig Harbor High without running or even seeing a steeplechase. When Coach Drake suggested she try it, she had no idea it would become something she loved.
"I knew you went over hurdles, and I didn't think I could jump over hurdles, let alone a water pit. The first time I tried it I ran into the barrier. I was afraid, but I love it now," Andrews said.
Being pushed by her older teammates has helped the Cougar sophomore in the long run. Striving to keep up with two-time Pac-10 steeple champion Sara Trané or recent graduate Collier Lawrence gives Andrews more drive during the long race, and she has found her pace and keeps pushing it harder and harder. The steeplechase is about pace but Andrews thrives in the last leg.
"Usually when I have one lap (to go) I'm like `Ok, let's go' but then I run into a barrier. Once I'm over the water pit it just kicks in, because it shoots you into it and its like `Head down and go, no holding back!'"
She has not settled. There has not been a race yet this season that she has not PR'd. Andrews says her body has just gotten used to the mileage and volume required of a good collegiate runner. After struggling with some sickness last summer, she finally has gotten back into the JD volume of running.
"Coach was just trying to push me to the 12-mile marker, that's our biggest goal I would say, and I did it last weekend. It was exciting and it was a good moment for me," Andrews said.
She is looking forward to the Pac-10 Championships in Eugene next month where she plans to PR again and score points for the Cougs in the steeplechase. Andrews has never run in Eugene and this meet will be more special to because her family, which is filled with Cougar alumni, will be able to see her compete. And another Andrews is set to join the Cougar distance corps next year when her sister Alyssa joins the team.
"My goal is finish in the top eight or top five at Pac-10's, to kick butt and run fast!" said Andrews who finished 13th last year as a freshman.
Drake said, "Amanda's running well and her 1500m at UCLA was big time for her so I think that holds well for the steeple. Especially in the championship season where typically there are slower races with a little bit of a kick at the end."
As the 2009 season moves toward that championship season (WSU-UW Dual, Pac-10 Champs, NCAA West Regional, NCAA Championships), Cougar track fans can look forward to more surprising performances from Andrews.