Anderson qualifies for NCAA Div. II championships

Folsom High grad finds her niche with steeplechase
By: Matt Long Telegraph Sports Editor
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Courtney Anderson made a decision prior to her senior year in high school that has made a big impact on her life. In 2008 as she entered her senior year at Folsom High, Anderson, an up-and-coming hurdler on the track team, decided to run cross country to get in and stay in shape for the spring track season. When all was said and done, Anderson’s foray into cross country has helped her become one of the top steeplechase athletes in the nation. On Friday, Anderson, a 20-year-old junior at Cal State Stanislaus, ran an automatic qualifying time in the 3,000-meter steeplechase at the Stanford Invitational, which qualifies her for the NCAA Division II Outdoor Track and Field Championships in Pueblo, CO, in May. “I think in her first cross country meet she finished in 29 minutes and she thought she was going to die,” then Folsom High cross country coach Dave Gregson said. “By the end of the year I think she was all-league and she did it all on heart.” During her senior year Anderson and the cross country team competed in the Stanford Invitational and while there Anderson watched the steeplechase event and was intrigued. Gregson happened to approach Anderson with a thought. “Mr. Gregson said, ‘You know, this could be your event,’” Anderson said. “My first thought was, ‘You’re crazy.’ As we were leaving we met the America River College track coach, Jeanette Allred-Powless, and she used to be a steeplechaser and that’s how I got started in it.” Anderson said she fell in love with the event, a combination of distance running and hurdling, immediately. “I liked it because it was difficult and a lot of people don’t like jumping over barriers, let alone into a water hazard,” Anderson said. After two solid years at American River College, Anderson is now a scholarship athlete at Cal State Stanislaus and her coach, Diljeet Dosanjh Taylor, is thrilled to have her. “Courtney is one of most talented junior college transfers I’ve seen,” Taylor said. “Just from last year to this year she’s improved so much and that’s not your normal progression. One of the reasons why she’s improved by leaps and bounds is that she’s so competitive. Courtney’s mentally tough, physically fit and she has a lot of heart and when you combine that with her competitiveness, that’s what makes her so good.” In her first 3,000-meter steeplechase of the season, Anderson set the Cal State Stanislaus school record with a time of 10 minutes, 54.88 seconds that put her fifth in the nation at the Division II level. In her second race last Friday at the Stanford Invitational, the same event four years earlier that planted the seed that made her a steeplechaser, Anderson finished in 10 minutes, 32.82 seconds, topping the automatic qualifying time for the Division II national championships by more than two seconds. Anderson believed she could reach the qualifying time and she did. Prior to the meet Anderson said, “I ran 9:52 in a flat 3K with no barriers so if I keep the same pace I think I can do it.” Now that’s she’s qualified for the national meet, Anderson has one other goal. “I want to be an All-American, which is a top-eight finish at nationals,” Anderson said. Taylor added, “Courtney’s got a great chance to do well.”