Crossing the Line with Lauren Echko
Cavalier sophomore Lauren Echko smashed a 14-year-old school record in the 100m hurdles on Saturday at the ECAC Championships in Princeton, N.J. Her time of 13.72 bettered Rebecca Grube’s 1994 record by over one-10th of a second and qualified her for the NCAA East Region meet in Tallahassee, Fla., on May 30-31. Virginia will send at least 26 athletes to compete in the championships, more than any other season in the program’s history.
Question: Prior to this weekend, you hadn’t qualified for the regional meet in the 100 hurdles. How does it feel to know that you’ve now not only met the requirements, but, shattered a 14-year-old school record?
Echko: Before heading to the meet, one of my teammates asked me if I felt any pressure since this was the last chance I had to qualify. I really didn’t feel pressured at all, especially not by coach (Randy) Bungard. I knew that my workouts had been really great up until this point and if I just ran my race, I would be fine to qualify for the region meet. Breaking the school record wasn’t really in my mind as a goal for the weekend. But, after my trial heat (13.83), I was feeling really fast so it became a possibility. When I saw my time for semifinals, it was so hard to keep myself from grinning. I just kept hoping that the wind was under 2.0 so that it would count, and it was It hasn’t really sunk in yet that I broke the record, others have congratulated me and I keep telling myself over and over again, but it’s not real yet.
Question: How will your training change in the next week or so in preparation for the regional meet?
Echko: I’ve really enjoyed the kind of one-on-one attention I have receive since classes are over and the group has thinned out to only those who have qualified for ECACs and regionals. Coach Bungard has put together very specific workouts to cater to the needs of my race and what I can improve on during the race in order to bring my time down even more. Even after breaking the record we both agreed that there is still so much room for improvement. So, this week and next, I will look forward to getting my splits down in between the hurdles and making sure that I am focused on the entire race, not just the first half of it.
Question: With a year of experience behind you at the regional meet, what are you most excited about this year?
Echko: I am excited to be healthy this year. My first year I was dealing with a serious hamstring problem and I ran quite poorly at the regional meet. This year I want to be competitive and continue to bring my time down while racing against some of the finest athletes in the country.
Question: The team is sending at least 26 athletes to compete at the East Regional Meet this season, more than any year in the past. What sort of expectations do yourself and the coaching staff have for each of you individually? And what about as a team?
Echko: The coaches are always in support of us, no matter how we perform. They always want to see us do our best. I know coach Bungard and I talked mostly about getting my time down even more since that it what I am capable of doing. As for the Cavaliers as a team, we want to make a huge impact on the regional meet so that other athletes and coaches know how powerful of a squad this University has. It’s one thing to know that a school has one or two great athletes, but to send 26 individuals down to the meet really lets everyone know how powerful we truly are and how deep our team is.
Question: How do you spend your time away from the track and the classroom?
Echko: When I’m not doing homework or at practice I am involved with Phi Sigma Pi which is a co-ed Honor Fraternity. I am the president of the English Honor Society and I was a member of Third Year Council and now a member of the Class of 2009 Trustees. All three are excellent activities that allow me to meet new people and branch out to many different areas of the University. I am also fortunate enough to have become involved in things that I not only love, but also allow me to stay 100 percent active and focused on track since it is such a huge commitment.