Edwards is blazing a trail to the Olympics

Wile E. Coyote, meet the roadrunner. Samantha Edwards, a Virginia State track standout and Elmont, New York native has literally been blazing a trail starting in Ettrick. By breaking her own school record of 53.25 seconds in the 400 meters with a time of 52.15 seconds, Edwards qualified not only for the Nationals in Pueblo, Colorado last week, but also for the United States Olympic trials that will be held in Eugene, Oregon June 21 through July 1.

“It’s been a dream to compete in the Olympics since high school,” said Edwards. “It’s hard to imagine getting to this point but it’s amazing.”

Edwards, who majored in Biology and Pre-Med has several accolades, most notably the NCAA Atlantic Region Athlete of the Year to go along with several CIAA awards and two school records. The first record in the 400 meters locked up a spot in the Olympic trials. Edwards time in the 400 meters is the fastest in all of NCAA D-II and the sixth overall fastest time in the nation across all divisions. Her second school record came in the 200 meters and she set that record with a time of 23.80 seconds.

“Samantha has done a great job remaining consistent and continually improving,” said Virginia State women’s head track and field coach Jason-Lamont Jackson. “She keeps making continuous strides.”

Jackson, the reigning CIAA Women’s Outdoor Track and Field Coach of the Year, took over in Samantha’s junior year. She had mostly ran the shorter sprint races in the 100 and 200 meters, but Jackson decided to move Edwards to the 400 meters, a move that assuredly has paid off.

“Since I always ran the 100 and 200, and did well in those,” said Edwards, “It was unexpected that I came out and was able to do so well in the 400, it’s crazy to think about.”

Edwards will compete against the other 27 fastest women in the country for a spot on the Olympic team, looking to shave any time possible off of her 52.15 time. To do so, Edwards reviews film of her races, looking to see where she can cut time – whether she was a little slow out of the gate, or ran a certain section of the race a little faster or slower than usual.

“It’s almost like you’re racing against yourself,” said Jackson. “It’s very technical and requires a lot of focus and consistency to improve, and Samantha has that,” he continued. “The race typically comes down to the last 80 meters.”

Edwards, like any athlete, has her own routine. First, an iPod is required. Loud music is key to Edwards. Second, the Trojans standout states that you have to practice as if you were in an actual meet. Third, a week before a meet, you have to load up on carbs, and get a lot of rest, especially the last couple of days heading into the meet.

“I can’t say enough about Samantha’s consistency,” raved Jackson. “She also does a great job in believing in herself and getting things done.”

In the classroom, Edwards also excels, sporting a 3.0 GPA for her college career. Edwards was accepted into VSU’s graduate program for Biology. Edwards also made the adjustment from life on Long Island in New York to Virginia.

“Everything here just moves a lot slower than New York,” said Edwards. “I’ve been here a while so I’ve adjusted, and I really do like it here.”

Stay tuned to the Village News for updates on Edwards to see if she can obtain her goal of qualifying for the Olympics.

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