One young track and field athlete is tearing up the field at a historic rate.
Leah Banks, mass communication sophomore runner, has separated herself from her teammates throughout this year’s track season and is on her way to becoming one of the most accomplished athletes in the program’s history.
Banks is coming off an impressive performance at the Falcon Track Classic, where she was not only able to finish in first place in the heptathlon, but also broke several records defeating the defending Peach Belt Conference Champion in the event.
The heptathlon is a track and field event in which athletes compete in the 100-meter hurdles, high jump, shot put, 200-meter dash, long jump, javelin and 800-meter run and a champion is determined based off of scores from the seven events.
Breaking three school records along the way in the 100 meter hurdles, high jump and long jump, Banks holds the Loyola track and field heptathlon record after recording 4,520 points at her last meet.
The sophomore athlete described the moment she discovered she had broken these records as a shocking experience.
“I was excited, I was ecstatic, but it was almost unbelievable because it was like ‘I didn’t think I ran that fast’ or ‘I didn’t think I jumped that far’ It was mind blowing,” Banks said.
Nick Dodson, track and field head coach, set high goals for Banks, but she was able to go above and beyond her coach’s expectations.
“My goal was to score about 4,300 points and she exceeded that with 4,520 points. I knew that if she were to get at least over 4,400 we could take down the young lady from (the University of) Montevallo, (Hunter Chavarry),” Dodson said.
Before Dodson got the job at Loyola, he said he was able to see the potential in Banks’ multi-talented skill set.
“She’s so good in so many different events that the heptathlon is really her home. She didn’t do it last year and when I watched her last year at the conference championships I said ‘man, this girl is really versatile’,” Dodson said.
While reflecting back on her impressive performance, Banks cited her inability to compete in the heptathlon last season as a huge motivation behind her preparation for the Falcon Track Classic.
“I went into it wanting to do the best that I could because I wasn’t able to compete in it last year. So going into it this meet was exciting because I get to do what I’m recruited for,” Banks said.
Banks said that performance in her last meet lifted a weight off of her shoulders as far as meeting expectations for herself going into each event.
Banks will next compete for the Wolf Pack at the South Alabama Invitational track meet in Mobile, Alabama on April 13.