By Jeremy McDonald
SALEM, Ore.– Abi Swain wanted a challenge this past summer when she took on the challenge of the Steeplechase following the end of her Junior year.
The Steeplechase is one of those athletic events in Track and Field that you don’t really see ran if at all in the State of Oregon, so the North Salem Senior wanted some exposure before entering her freshman year at Portland State University.
“I wanted to compete in the USATF meets mainly to get exposure in the Steeplechase. It’s not a normal event for high school meets to have but it’s an event that is really exciting to me and one that I hope to compete in at the collegiate level,” said Swain. “The steeple race that I competed in at regionals was the second time I had ever done steeplechase.”
In the 2K race, or a shade below 1.25 miles, Swain won the race in 7:50.33; a PR for the Viking runner while running with the Salem-based Valley Track Club at the Regional Races. The time would be considered third on the All-Time 2,000 meter Steeplechase list at her college school in Portland State University, 14.33 seconds off the All-Time pace.
Swain also competed in the 1,500-meter race with VTC, winning the USATF Oregon Association Junior Olympics Championships in 5:01.65, a PR, and was fourth at the Regional Junior Olympic Race later in the season.
“Since I didn’t get to compete in the 1,500 at state last year, Valley Track Club allowed me to continue training in the event and continue to keep up my fitness during the summer,” said Swain.
“Training and competing at regional’s kept me fit during the summer and it also kept me excited for more races to come. I was able to continue to train with the team during the off-season which was super valuable as well.”
Swain finished fourth in the 5A State Cross Country meet on the heels of a seventh-place finish as a sophomore and was looking to carry some momentum over for Track and Field this past Spring.
But the oddness of this particular Spring has Swain training for Cross Country once more. With the beauty of her sport, she is able to take advantage of social distancing while preparing for what lies ahead for her and practice at her craft.
“This spring season has been very odd due to the fact that everything has been canceled. Since all of the tracks in Salem have closed, I’ve started to train for the cross country again and I’ve increased my mileage,” said Swain. “I’m in the phase of my training where I’m building my base miles so that I can be prepared to compete next season.
“Moving to the fall, I will be competing in cross country for PSU and track in the spring. To prepare for next season, I am continuing to run and build up my fitness as well as cross-training like biking. The beauty of my sport is that I can still run without the added risk of being near people.”
The Viking Women in Portland finished eighth in the Big Sky Championships on November 2 in Cross Country last Fall and was 21st in the NCAA West Regional November 15, 2019.