When junior Jessica Pixler talks about her running career, nostalgia takes her back to where her passion began.
"I remember running the mile way back in elementary school," Pixler recalled. "I beat every boy I ran against until I reached junior high."
Now a defending NCAA Division II champion in both cross-country and indoor track and field, Pixler truly is an All-American athlete.
Pixler, who in November was named the women’s Division II Athlete of the Year by the United States Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association, holds a calm view toward her accomplishments.
"It’s cool. I don’t really think about it," Pixler said, referring to her nationally renowned successes.
"Running isn’t just something I like," she said, "but a release I need. It brings me a lot of joy."
Pixler said she’s had a wonderful experience at SPU.
"I’ve been very fortunate," she said. "Some of my best friends at the school are my teammates." Fortunate indeed, considering the amount of time she spends training with those teammates.
Pixler trains up to three times a day during the summer.
"My favorite training exercise is the pendulum, where we run back and forth between hills for 45 minutes," she said.
The Washington-born runner has developed an arsenal of techniques over the years, yet some of her greatest influences come from her home.
"I can’t even begin to describe how big of an impact my family has had on my running career," Pixler said. "My mom may as well be one of my coaches."
Coach Erika Daligcon, Pixler’s official coach, stepped in for the Falcon’s previous distance coach, Doris Heritage, in 2008.
"Erika has done a great job coaching so far this season," Pixler said. "She really cares about all the athletes, not just their performances."
So, what’s in store for Pixler?
"I think it would be great to run pro for a while. I’d have to get sponsored by a shoe company like Nike or something," Pixler said. "It all depends on my performances in the upcoming meets and seasons." Considering her track record, Pixler is a notable candidate for going professional.
As one might expect of an academically inclined student, Pixler, who is majoring in English with a 3.9 grade point average, isn’t betting all of her chips on reaching the professional sports ranks.
"I love being an English major," she said. "I think I’ll eventually teach somewhere."
As for this racing season, Pixler has her sights set on her upcoming races.
"I’m pretty sure I’ll be running five events in the upcoming meet," she said. "I’m excited to see what I can do."
Look for Pixler in events ranging from the mile to the 800-meter dash. She and the rest of the Falcons will be competing in the University of Washington’s Dempsey Indoor facility on Friday and Saturday for back-to-back invitationals.
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Title: Running, Pixler, the perfect pair | Author: Kyal Wilson | Section: Sports | Published Date: 2009-01-28 | Internal ID: 5924