By Bryan Stauffer
How does one of Cal Poly Pomona’s most driven track and field athletes follow up a National Championship appearance and a first-place finish in the CCAA Championships in her first two years of competing?
By doing it again.
Junior runner and team co-captain, Heather Corder, has laid a promising foundation for a c areer that exhibits unlimited potential, earning a spot among the nation’s best in the 2010 NCAA Division II National Championships’ 100-meter hurdles event and winning the same event in 2012 at the CCAA Championships.
She has accomplished in two years what most athletes hope to accomplish in four, but she is not stopping there. It is not in her nature.
“I put a lot of pressure on myself, probably more than I should,” said Corder. “You always want to live up to what you did the previous year, and if I don’t do that, then I’m not happy and I don’t feel like I did what I could.”
Corder’s quest for track and field immortality began in middle school and carried over to Murrieta Valley High School where she flourished, setting a school record in the 100 hurdles with a mark of 14.22.
Descending from a long line of athletes, which includes two athletic parents and a brother who also holds a record in the 100 hurdles at MVHS, the communication student said track and field has always been something she has held close to her heart.
“When you’re pretty good at something, you sort of just stick with it,” said Corder.
Despite an ongoing strained quadriceps she experienced early in the season, Corder notched a ‘B’ provisional qualifying mark in the 100 hurdles at the Mt. San Antonio College Relays on April 18 and helped anchor the 4×100-meter relay to the CCAA’s second-best mark this season at the Cal-Nevada Championships on March 29.
Although she did not compete this weekend at the Steve Scott Invite, Corder’s chances of repeating history are certainly not out of the question.
“I’m just trying to get first in conference again and hopefully make it to Nationals,” said Corder. “Right now, I’m on the verge of making it, and so I’m trying to improve my time [this] week.”
With another solid performance this weekend at the CCAA Championships in Turlock, Calif., Corder will have earned her second trip to Nationals in three years.
“Performing well in my races is extremely important to me,” said Corder. “All of my hard work and dedication has to pay off.”
Senior teammate and fellow hurdles aficionado Jillian Schmidt said track is more than just a sport to Corder.
She sees it as an opportunity to not only make herself better, but to also better those around her in the process.
“She’s a good teammate because she pushes me, personally, really hard in the hurdles,” said Schmidt. “She’s always one of the people that is cheering everybody on at all of the meets and practices.”
With more than an impressive start to her collegiate career, Schmidt is anxious to see what Corder will accomplish her senior year.
“I’m excited to see her next year,” said Schmidt. “I think she’ll get better.”
Next year will have to wait, however. With the two most important meets of the year still ahead, Corder will be fighting for a spot among not only the conference’s best track and field athletes, but also the nation’s best.
“I hope she goes out there and can execute the things we have been talking about,” said head coach Octavious Gillespie-Bennett. “If she can execute well, I think she can repeat as a [conference] champion.”
Corder is aiming for her second first-place finish in the CCAA Championships in two years this weekend, but what will it take to accomplish such a feat?
“I have to leave it all on the track,” said Corder.
Nathan Guerard/The Poly Post
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