Seattle Pacific’s Jessica Pixler Looks Back on Mt. SAC 4:11

By Tom Lewis, USTFCCCA

April 21, 2010   

SEATTLE – Jessica Pixler said breaking records wasn’t foremost on her mind this past weekend during two track meets in California.



Hmm … imagine how fast the Seattle Pacific senior might run they are a priority.



Suffice to say that Pixler’s legs overruled her mindset during the Mt. SAC Relays in Walnut, Calif., and the Beach Invitational in Cerritos.



On Friday night at Mt. SAC, Pixler broke SPU’s 22-year-old school record in the 1,500 meters when she came through the finish in 4 minutes, 11.06 seconds. Then about 20 hours later at the Beach Invite, she beat the 33-year-old school record in the 800 meters with a time of 2:04.89.



Gone are the old Falcon standards of 4:13.12 in the 1,500, which was set in 1988 by Gitte Karlshoj, and 2:06.6 in the 800, established in 1977 by Susie Griffith.



“I really wasn’t thinking about records going in – and that’s kind of surprising because that has been a huge goal of mine all four years,” Pixler (Sammamish, Wash./Eastlake HS) said of her two new marks. “ I was thinking more about getting a USA nationals qualifying time in the 1,500. And in the 800, I just wanted to have a good race.”



Her performance in the 1,500 at Mt. SAC was the fourth-fastest in the world at this early moment of the outdoor season. But in that same race, Katie Follett from the University of Washington ran the second-fastest time in the world – 4:10.66 – to surge past Pixler in the final 100 meters.



“I was a little disappointed, but not too bad,” Pixler said. “We’ve raced against each other a lot. She has a really good kick, and she’s a great athlete.



“I got beat, but the person had to run a really good time to do it. … I didn’t quite have the extra gear I needed, but that’s going to come later on.”



As much as she left on the Hilmer Lodge Stadium track on Friday, Pixler clearly still had enough in the tank the next day to take down the 800-meter record, which was the second-oldest standard in the SPU book. (The oldest one still there now is Sherron Walker’s 21-foot, 8¾-inch long jump in 1976.)



“I was feeling kind of tired, (so) I was really surprised I ran so well,” Pixler said. “I wasn’t super-motivated or anything. After the first 200, I kind of woke up and said, ‘This is a race, try to win it.’”



It was just three weeks ago on March 26 when Pixler broke the school record in the 5,000 meters with a 15:44.07 run at the Stanford Track & Field Invitational. The old standard in that one – 16:16.12 – was 32 years old, set in 1978 by Debbie Quatier.



“She continues to amaze everyone,” SPU coach Karl Lerum said after Saturday’s Beach Invite. “She is running at a level that’s a different kind of level.”



PLEASANTLY SURPRISED

Even Pixler admits to being somewhat amazed by the way things are going this spring.



“It’s kind of crazy to think that I’m running well in the 800 and the 5K,” Pixler said of the vastly different distances. “That’s just a testament to how good a job Erika (Daligcon, SPU’s assistant track coach and head cross country coach) is doing as a coach. That’s not me, that’s all Erika right there.”



For her part, Daligcon deflected that credit right back to Pixler.



“She’s very talented, and that’s showing through, and it’s fun to see,” Daligcon said. “Her body is feeling good, and her training is coming together at the right time.”



All three of Pixler’s times – which also stand as Great Northwest Athletic Conference records — are good for automatic entry into next month’s NCAA Division II championships in Charlotte, N.C. She won’t run all three, but very possibly could go in two of them. She also is an automatic qualifier in the 1,500 and 5,000 for USA nationals, and is a provisional qualifier in the 800 for that meet, which is set for June in Eugene, Ore.



“Right now, it’s really nice that I’m in the position where I can train through the rest of the season to USAs,” Pixler said. “That’s really what the focus of this whole outdoor season has been for me, and for the coaches, as well. I want to be running my best in June. We’ve changed things up a lot this year (with training), and it has worked out really well. Erika has done a fantastic job.”



The other thing that Pixler has changed a lot is SPU’s record book.



Even when she wasn’t thinking about it.



YET ANOTHER GNAC ATHLETE OF WEEK FOR PIXLER

Pixler’s double record-breaking performance in California made her the clear choice for the GNAC women’s track Athlete of the Week award that was announced on Monday.



It was her second conference honor of the season for outdoor track. She has 29 career Athlete of the Week awards – seven for outdoor track, 10 for indoor track, and 12 for cross country.