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Student Read, Student Written, Student Led Since 1878

The Knox Student

Student Read, Student Written, Student Led Since 1878

The Knox Student

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Lydia Mitchell breaks 400m school record

Lydia+Mitchell+breaks+400m+school+record

Junior Lydia Mitchell representing Knox at the Van Steckelberg Invite. (Robert Nguyen / TKS)

Junior Lydia Mitchell representing Knox at the Van Steckelberg Invite. (Robert Nguyen / TKS)

At the Van Steckelberg Invite, junior Lydia Mitchell broke the school record in the 400m dash with a 58.02

Junior Lydia Mitchell is a self-described competitor. She loves the challenge of going up against someone she has heard is a great runner or if there are a surplus of runners competing against her. This meet, she was fueled by the event being at home. 

“This Saturday, I think I was successful just because like, there was a little bit of pressure. It’s a home meet. My teammates were watching, you know, more people from the community were there and I was like, ‘Okay, I really have to do well today. Prove that I should be here,’ you know?”

It’s that chip on Mitchell’s shoulder that keeps her hungry for more success. You wouldn’t think a runner that has already broken the 400m with a 59.05 time at the D3 Elite Indoor Championships and is second on the top ten list for the 200m would need to show she belongs, but that’s what keeps Mitchell hungry. 

This season has been particularly challenging for Mitchell. With the COVID-19 pandemic displacing the traditional sports calendar, soccer—a fall sport—is happening at the same time as track, which can create some mental stress for the junior from Maryville, Missouri.

“One thing that I’ve been thinking a lot about is ‘Am I at practice enough?’ I do have to skip track every once in a while for soccer or skip soccer for track, and that can kind of get to my head a little bit. I try to not let it phase me, but sometimes it does. Sometimes I think about it too much,” 

To combat the circling array of thoughts casting doubt, Mitchell looks within to refocus and center herself. She gives herself a pep talk, telling herself that “I’ve done everything I can,” and that “there’s nothing I can do to change anything now.” 

What made this race different from the past races was her jump. Mitchell’s jump was an important fixture in the practices before the start. Head Track and Field Coach Evander Wells, touched on the importance of getting off to a good start. 

“You don’t have to try to make up ground. So, you know, Lydia is a strong individual, so we never really work it, worry about her not being able to finish. So, the better we can improve the first, let’s say 50 meters of the race, the better she’s just going to continue to do,” Wells said. 

Mitchell credited her coach for the improvement she’s been making with her times. Wells knows how his athletes want to be coached and the workouts they need to be successful.

“I think he knows all of us so well and knows what we need to be successful. Every once in a while, or maybe like once a week, he has a personal workout for me that helps me. It’s just different from the other sprinters because I run different events, and it’s really nice,” Mitchell said. 

Evander Wells also tries to instill good mechanics into all of his athletes. Wells works with his runners to run efficiently. 

“We’re trying to run forward, so we try and keep as much of our body in front of us as possible, trying to limit the feet behind us just kind of kicking back. We’re working on doing that with everybody,” Wells said.

The 400m is a race of endurance and knowing how to pace yourself. She used to start fast, slow down on the backstretch, and then ramp it up again halfway through. Mitchell changed the approach for this past race. 

“I got out really fast and then I picked it up on the backstretch, and I tried to just be consistent. And then when I got to the last 100, I know I slowed down. I was still running as hard as I could, but my body just couldn’t keep up,” Mitchell said. 

Despite how taxing doing soccer and track at the same time is, the teammates she has on the track team are what motivate her to keep going. 

“With soccer, especially right now with soccer and track, which js kind of a lot. It’s just all my body is very tired, but when I get to practice and I see my teammate, I see like, ‘Okay, this is worth it,” Mitchell said. 

“TK [Takira Koonce] has been like a really huge supporter of mine, and it’s nice to have a group of all of the women like her and Kristen [Herndon] there to just kind of be supportive of each other. And TK, especially, can point out things that I’ve done wrong. She can work with me while Coach Wells works with somebody else, and she’s just very knowledgeable. I think if I hadn’t had TK there, I don’t know how long I would stick with track.”

Junior Derrick Jackson, a great athlete himself, also spoke highly about Mitchell’s prowess as an athlete. 

“I break records too, but Lydia is a GOAT. I tell her everyday, she’s different,” Jackson said.

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