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Shannon Young breaks school record in steeplechase

Photo by Helena Gruensteidl Shannon Young came back from a semester abroad in Cambodia and broke a school record.

Photo by Helena Gruensteidl
Shannon Young came back from a semester abroad in Cambodia and broke a school record.

Last weekend at the Kip Janvrin Invitational, Shannon Young ’17 broke the Grinnell women’s track and field steeplechase record by more than three seconds. She finished in 11:21:80, beating the previous record and coming in third.

“The record was held by Diana Seer [’15] and she broke it by 10 seconds [finishing in 11:24:90], which was really exciting,” Young said. “I was on the team when she did that, and then I broke it by three seconds. It was a 13-second PR for me.”

Last semester, Young was abroad and was not able to train as much as her coaches might have liked. She was in a hot and humid climate, and spent lots of time doing field research. Luckily, the time off did not affect her ability to excel this spring.

“My coaches were worried it would affect my training, but honestly I think it could have been better for me because it made it so I didn’t burn out mentally after I’ve been running for all of college,” she said. “I also do cross country so I don’t ever get a season off. I think it was good to let my body and my mind recover and be better for the season.”

The steeplechase is a 3,000-meter race with five barriers, including one water jump. It is different from any other track and field event in that it is longer than other races with barriers such as hurdles, and it involves water, which no other race does.

“I think it’s really interesting because you get to change your way of thinking about the race all the time,” Young said. “You’re running a distance race but you’re also a hurdler, so you flip between those every quarter of a lap. Mentally, it’s broken up.”

Additionally, the steeplechase requires a balance of various track and field strengths, including endurance, form and distance.

“In a race when it gets really hard, you have to find a different way to keep going,” she said. “Because I think in a lot of races when you get tired, it’s sort of okay, and you can zone out and drag your feet and push through, but [in the steeplechase] you still have to have really good form, and maintain that and get over things and have that strength. Sometimes if you have a good race, it’s really rewarding and fun for that reason, and if you have a bad race it can tear you apart.”

For Young, her mental strength and grit are what sets her apart from other competitors. The steeplechase, in addition to being physically demanding, is mentally demanding as well. This past weekend, the meet took additional mental and physical strength due to poor weather.

“Our pole vaulters didn’t get to vault, and our throwers — it’s really hard to throw a discus in the rain,” Young said.

However, the rain did not stop the Pioneers from giving it their best.

The Kip Janvrin Invitational is an annual track meet at Simpson College. This year, there were over 1,050 student-athletes from 45 different colleges, some of which are Division I schools.

“It was a meet with some of the highest competition in the nation. There are a lot of DI schools that go to this meet and this was the first time we’ve been against really hard competition,” Young said. “Everyone did really well considering that and a lot of people PR’d, which is really exciting towards conference in two weeks.”

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