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Becky Wade qualifies for 2012 US Olympic Trials

By Bhagwat Kumar     4/12/12 7:00pm

On April 6, at the Stanford Invitational, senior Becky Wade ran a 32:40.8 in the 10,000-meter. This time now stands as the Rice University school record and qualifies Wade for the U.S. Olympic trials this summer. Setting this mark was a major step in what has been an arduous process for Wade, one that began her freshman year and will continue into the Olympic Trials. Wade always wanted to have the 10,000-meter record, but did not really have a chance to go for it until this season.

"I've had my eye on the school record ever since I started running the 10,000-meter freshman year, but haven't had too many opportunities to go for it until now because I was injured during two consecutive track seasons," Wade said.

Head coach Jim Bevan said that Wade had not participated in the 10,000 much before this season.

"Her last 10,000 was at NCAA Nationals in 2009, where she made All-American," Head Coach Jim Bevan said, after explaining that Wade had not been close to breaking the record in the recent past.

Wade's record-breaking performance was spurred by a substantial negative split, as she ran the second half of the race a full 10 seconds faster than the first half.

"I felt comfortable and smooth in the race," she said about her effort. "The conditions at Stanford are always conducive to fast times, and it was nice to latch onto a pack of 10-12 runners who were also trying to run sub-33:00."

Despite the monumental significance of setting a school record, the true importance of the event was even greater to Wade, as she hopes to compete in the Olympics. In order to do so, she must first compete in the Olympic Trials, held at the end of June, two weeks after the NCAA Championship. Every athlete who runs the Standard A, a time established by USA Track and Field for each event, is granted a chance to participate in the Trials, with the top three finishers given the honor of representing the U.S. in the Olympics. According to Becky, she was hoping to run the Standard A towards the end of April, and has thus alleviated some of the pressure of the upcoming month by already doing so.

Although a chance to participate in the Olympics is as life-changing as they come, Wade remains focused and consistent in her priorities. "I won't change anything about my training for the Trials since our primary focus is the NCAA Championship in June," she said. "Everything I'm doing now is focused on that, and then I'll have two weeks to recover and sharpen up to give the 10-kilometer another go at the Trials."

Wade's attitude is decidedly team-first.

"Even though I have my own goals and race strategies, I am still part of a team and I owe it to my teammates to give everything I have each time I step on the track," Wade said.

Bevan could say nothing but compliments about Wade.

"Becky is an absolute jewel of a person and a jewel to coach," Bevan said. "She has all the positive attributes or qualities in a person that you would like to have,"

The team as a whole also continues to improve along with Wade.

"We are making progress in a number of areas," Bevan said.

The throwers, freshman Claire Uke, junior Sharae Robinson and freshman Olivia Williams, have continued their strong performances recently, and newly-converted 800-meter runner junior Lillian Nwora is steadily adapting to her new role. Bevan also said that junior Candace Springer was coming on strongly as a sprinter, with the vaulters also on the verge of a breakthrough. The team's next event is The University of Texas-El Paso Invitational on April 14. For Wade, this meet, as well as upcoming meets, will bring a chance to train and run shorter races, such as the 5-kilometer and 1,500-meter.

Still, Wade's ultimate goal remains unchanged as she plans on running long after graduation.

"I see the Trials as an incredible opportunity to just see what I can do when I'm competing with the best runners in the country and to prepare for major meets like this in the future," she said.

Wade does not see the trials as her last opportunity, as she hopes to continue running for years to come.

"I definitely want to keep competing after I graduate and see myself moving up to the marathon eventually," Wade said. "Female distance runners don't peak until their mid-30s, so I'm excited to have over a decade more of running and racing."

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