Cross-country athlete Allika Pearson received a nomination to the Sooner Athletic Conference’s Female Student-Athlete of the Year List. JBU’s Pearson earned the highest individual finish in conference meet program history when she finished second place in the SAC women’s cross-country championships in 2019, according to the SAC press release. She earned three SAC runner of the week awards in 2019. Pearson holds the best 5000-meter time in program history at 18 minutes, 25 seconds.
Athletes nominated to the list excel in both athletic and academic performance. Sports Information Directors nominate student-athletes to the list from each sport. Students nominated to the list are then voted by SAC Sports Information Directors for the overall 2019-2020 women’s student-athlete of the year. The list seeks to honor students for their academic and athletic achievement. The winner of the overall award this year was Wayland Baptist basketball player Morgan Bennett.
Pearson was nominated because she “works extremely hard both as an athlete and as a student,” cross-country Coach Scott Schochler said. Pearson runs about 50 miles a week here in Arkansas, showing her dedication to the sport. Some of the characteristics that Schochler said set Pearson up for success include her dedication, curiosity and determination, as well as her true enjoyment of the sport.
“Another characteristic that I really appreciate is she is extremely coachable. She will try different race tactics and workouts and work on specific ideas that we ask her to focus on,” Schochler said.
Pearson has been running since she was a child. She comes from a long line of runners, including her dad and brother. While she was not put in athletics as a child, she was able to develop running skills without a formal team. Pearson ran and earned awards in high school.
The highlight of Pearson’s running career occurred last year when she, Ben Martin and Coach Schochler went to Estonia with Athletes in Action to use track and field to spread the gospel with the locals. “We would go to track clubs of kids age 12-19 and give them an American workout. Afterwards, we would talk with them and see when and if the conversation could be nudged toward the gospel,” Pearson said. “We would use track to open the door to conversation.”
JBU athletics announced on August 27 in an email to students that all fall competition will be postponed until the spring. “As long as I am still practicing with the team, I am pretty content with that. I don’t need the competition to keep me going back because I love the people aspect of it,” Pearson said. For her, this means that “this fall we will probably do time trials just to see how far we have come with summer training and the training that we are doing right now.” Potentially, Pearson and her team will be competing in three seasons at once: cross country, indoor track and outdoor track.
Pearson would like to thank her dad for instilling a love of running in her. She would also like to thank Coach Schochler because of his wealth of running knowledge. Finally, Pearson would like to thank Sarah Larson for being a training buddy that is willing to “go running at absolutely any time of day.”
Regarding this coming season, Schochler is looking forward to “training hard and working to improve in order to have a record-breaking year for her and the entire cross-country program.”
Photo: Bailey McKenzie, The Threefold Advocate