Lizzie Carlin may only be a freshman, but she is already part of Rowland Hall history. In her first year on the track team she has broken the school records for both the 100-meter and 200-meter sprints, and she has her eye on the record for the 400.
“Lizzie’s really got goals,” said Mark Oftedal, head track and field coach. “She came in with goals in her freshman year, which is kind of unusual for a freshman to come in knowing straightaway, ‘These are the events I want to do. These are my goals. These are the times I'm shooting for.’"
Lizzie quickly turned her goals into reality. At her first track meet of the season she broke the school record in the 100-meter sprint with a time of 12.87 seconds. At the second meet, she claimed her second school record when she ran the 200 in 26.96 seconds.
Sibling rivalry may have had a bit to do with how Lizzie set her goals. The first two records she broke were set by her older sister, Emma Carlin ’17. Now though, while Lizzie’s still interested in breaking records, she’s running more for herself. “I just want to get faster,” she said. “I don't know if I really have an end goal, but I think mostly I'm just trying to get better with every practice and get the best times I can.”
Those amazing times may seem to come easy to Lizzie, but there is a lot of work going on behind the scenes. This is only her first year running track—ever. She was, and still is, a soccer player. As we all know, the two sports are very different. Yet, with the help of coaches she has been able to navigate between the two.
“We're trying to work more with her to get rid of the soccer arms—when you're running with your elbows out because you're trying to keep people away from the ball,” Coach Oftedal said. “We're trying to get her more linear in her sprint form, which will help take her times down.”
Lizzie said the physical differences between the two sports haven’t been the only adjustment. She’s had to change her mindset as well. “It's probably the first individual sport I've ever done,” she said. “That kind of gives me more motivation to do it well, because I know if I mess up, it's not like my team can fix it for me. And so that makes me work harder.”
There is a lot of hard work in Lizzie’s future if she wants the school record for the 400-meter sprint. At the final meet of the year she ran the race in 1:01.44 seconds. Her best time for the year was 1.00.76. The record, held by Candice Nkoy ’15, is 59.47. Lizzie had hoped to break it before the end of the year, but just over a second still stands between her and making more history. Will she be able to do it?
“She’s got the speed, obviously,” Coach Oftedal said. “Over time she will build endurance, and be able to carry that speed throughout the length of the race better.”
Lizzie knows breaking the record will be a challenge, but she’s digging deep to make it happen. “It's just having the motivation to go out and train on my own, so that I can get better at it,” Lizzie said. “That's the hardest part for me.”
Lizzie’s coaches see her drive growing, and they’re helping her overcome any qualms or fears that may get in her way. “She says she hates to compete, but I think it's because she cares so much about the outcome, the results, that she gets nervous,” Coach Oftedal said. “She's young. She's learning to deal with her nerves.”
Lizzie is at the right school for finding motivation and overcoming challenges. After all, it isn’t a question of if, but when: she hasn’t broken the 400 record, yet. She still has three more years, and the whole school cheering her on.