Olympic hopeful leads program

Olympic hopeful leads program

Five-time All-American sprinter Virgil Hodge is once again off to a fast start this season. She recently won her second Mountain West Conference women’s indoor track and field athlete of the week award this season and leads the team as the sole senior sprinter. The women’s team broke into the national top-25 rankings last week after finishing tied for No. 27 last season, and Hodge has lofty expectations. The Skiff recently had a chance to catch up with her and ask about her thoughts on the team this year and how her homeland of Basseterre, St. Kitts and Nevis, has shaped her athletic career.

Q: What is the difference between this year’s team and last year’s team?

A: Last year we had a lot of seniors, and this year the team is much younger overall. The new girls have learned a lot since they’ve been here and are going to be mentally and physically stronger. Now they are learning what it’s like to compete on the Division I circuit and are getting better.

Q: As the only senior sprinter, have you taken on more of a mentor role this year?

A: For me as a senior, the younger ones are going to look up to me regardless, but I hope I can be a good role model to them. I want them to continue (the winning tradition) when I’m gone.

Q: What do you want most from this season, personally and as a team?

A: Personally, I want to be able to get to nationals and run my fastest times ever and win one of the races I’m in, either indoor or outdoor. For the team, I’d like to see us get in the top three in every relay we compete in.

Q: The Mountain West Indoor Championships begin Feb. 28. What do you expect from that and how do you think you will finish there?

A: For me, I just want to run my race. As the back-to-back defending champion, I just want to go in and win again. The (Indoor) National Championships are the next meet after that, and I just want to stay focused and give it my best.

Q: How did you first become interested in track?

A: I started running in what they call ‘sports days’ in St. Kitts, and I was always pretty fast. From there I started representing St. Kitts in different island meets and continued from there.

Q: What has been your biggest disappointment as a runner?

A: Last season, I had a chance to represent St. Kitts in the Pan American Games and that would have been our first medal for St. Kitts at those games, and I ended up in fourth place. That was extremely disappointing, because I felt like I let down myself and my country.

Q: On the flip side, what are you most proud of?

A: I had a chance to go to the world championships, and I made it to the semifinals and that was the furthest an athlete from St. Kitts had ever gotten in those games. So I felt like I went there and proved something. I consider my greatest success to come to college and finish four years and graduate.

Q: What are your plans after college?

A: Hopefully I can take track to the next level, and I hope in the Olympics this year I can represent St. Kitts.

Hodge and the rest of the team can be seen this weekend at the Tyson Invitational in Fayetteville, Ark. The team will compete at home next in the Horned Frog Invite on March 22.