By Alyssa Palfey, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - True freshman Terrance Laird captured the 60-meter dash title at the Nittany Lion Challenge over the weekend, his first collegiate track meet ever.
Laird started off the indoor season strong with a time of 6.80, claiming first place in his first time ever in the Nittany Lion Blue and White. Laird is used to being on top, though. He currently has a meet record in the PIAA Track & Field Championships, where he ran a time of 21.02 in the 200-meter dash last year during the outdoor season.
The funny thing is, Laird started his track career by being cut from the high school baseball team. Quickly deciding that he should run track, finding out it was definitely the right choice of sport for him.
"I didn't want to a job, so in high school I just chose to play a sport. I tried out for the baseball team, but got cut," Laird said. "So, then I just started running track."
Laird began his track career as a sprinter just by his natural thought of him believing that he was quick. Little did he know, he'd end up being the fastest runner in the state of Pennsylvania just a few years later.
"I thought I was pretty fast, so sprinting was the area and group I was interested in," Laird said. "It really worked out."
Boy, did it work out. Laird was no doubt a great runner in high school, but running in college is a completely different dynamic. Laird is currently a Rehabilitation and Human Services (RHS) major at Penn State. He knew that academics was also a big part of choosing where he wanted to run. Penn State was the easy choice for him when he was deciding where to compete at the next level.
"Penn State is close to home," Laird said. "Coaching wise, it really felt like a team here, like a real team. There isn't any separation between anyone. It was somewhere I wanted to be and academically, it's all here. So, it was really a package deal."
Although being at Penn State has proved to be a good choice for Laird, he still has a long way to go for this season and the rest of his time here.
"From here, I am just going to keep listening to coach and what he tells me to do and what I have to work on. Just keep putting forth all my effort at practice and staying as healthy as possible," he said. "I want to keep getting better. I want to show up when it's time to show up like when we are at big meets or conferences, just show up and compete to the best of my ability. As long as I keep putting in effort at practices, the better I am going to be throughout the season, which will hopefully transfer to other meets and my Big Ten performance."
Assistant sprints, hurdles, and relays coach, Erin Tucker, believed that Laird had a great performance for his first collegiate meet. Although great races are good to have, it doesn't mean the work stops here. Tucker knows there are things Laird needs to work on in order to continuing progressing throughout the season.
"I want him to just stay the course, progress, and getting better. It's a process, obviously. He's a very eager guy and we have some things we need to fix with his start and some things we need to fix with his running mechanics in general," Tucker said. "As long as we continue to stay the course, and keep working on the little things, I think we will have some better performances down the road."