COMPILED BY ELISE HESTER
As a child, junior Britney Sullivan played soccer, basketball, softball. The long jumper started participating in track and field the summer of fourth grade with her older sister, with whom she has a seven year age gap.
“I always started out long jumping because my sister long jumped,” Sullivan said. “I wanted to be like my sister.”
Sullivan attended a private, all girls high school where she graduated with 200 girls, running and jumping at a school that did not have a track.
“We used to practice at the guys’ [school], but then we got kicked off their track “” one of the girls got hit in the head with a lacrosse ball and parents got upset, so we couldn’t practice there anymore. We actually practiced at a park my junior and senior year which was hard,” Sullivan said.
Though she had done track and field since fourth grade, it was not until her senior year that she started triple jumping.
“I’d tried triple jumping in the past and it was too complicated for me. It’s a lot of fun but when you’re first learning, I had no idea what was going on so I didn’t think I was very good at it and I didn’t want to do it,” Sullivan said. “I started out jumping 31 feet, which is really bad, and then by the end I was jumping like 37 feet so it was like a six foot increase in one season. It was pretty fun.”
The triple jump, while taking a great deal of athleticism, reach and speed, is also highly mental. It is the intricacy and mental side of the triple jump that Sullivan loves, one which she sees as much more mental than many other track and field events.
“It’s really hard and it’s really interesting and I think that’s why I like it. In a lot of events in track and field, you can’t really think while you’re doing it. Sprint events are so short you don’t think while you’re doing it that you don’t necessarily think at the meet, but at practice you are thinking, “˜Ok what do I need to do to make this phase better?’ and sometimes at meets it’s weird because you don’t think you’re thinking but you actually are,” said Sullivan. “It’s more fun. It gets my braining going more than other events.”
Sullivan is not the type of athlete who gets hyped up before competition. Instead she gets in her zone. If someone tries to talk to her, she will respond, but she keeps it short. “To prep, I just concentrate. I get very silent, I get very keyed into what I’m doing. I get very serious about it,” Sullivan said. “I’m in my zone, I’m ready to compete, I don’t much to say.”
It was at the suggestion of a jumping coach that Sullivan, who had never planned on jumping or running collegiately, decided to look at Trinity University. As a Tiger, Sullivan placed 10th at nationals last year in the triple jump. The now-junior was less than inch away from making it to the national finals, and only two people away from making All-American.
“I was really proud of myself. I think that’s the best I’ve competed at nationals,” Sullivan said. “I was maybe an inch or half an inch off of my season PR.”
This past season, Sullivan was named SCAC Field Woman of the Year. Sullivan was shocked when she received the title.
“I was pretty surprised. I didn’t really expect it. I was excited,” Sullivan said. “I mean they’re telling you that you’re the best in the conference for the entire year.”
Despite doing well and going to nationals every year during her time at Trinity, Sullivan is unclear as to what this season bring.
“It’s always weird when the season starts “˜cause you never know what’s in store,” said Sullivan. “I’m just really excited.”
Sullivan and the rest of Trinity’s track and field team will participate Sunday, Feb. 12, in Houston at the University of Houston indoor meet against several schools from Texas.