Sprinting toward the finish line

Junior track and field athlete mentally prepares by visualizing outcome of each race prior to competing



Junior sprinter Regyn Gaffney practices with her fellow track teammates at the Indoor Practice Facility on Jan. 9.

DYLAN GREENE, Evergreen sports editor

A joy founded in running without a care in the world developed for Regyn Gaffney at a young age. She recalls racing boys during elementary school and beating them every chance she got.

The junior sprinter on the WSU Track and Field team admits her passion for stomping her shoes against the pavement evolved at this time, but said it wasn’t until the fifth grade that she got involved with track events.

She competed in the Hershey’s Track and Field Games, a youth program launched in 1970, during this time. This served as an introduction to the sport and a glimpse into her future.

“It was just a huge eye opener for me because I realized that I was the tiny fish in a big huge pond,” Gaffney said.

Sprinting caught the attention of Gaffney when she noticed she was quicker than everybody else, and she has stuck with it ever since.

“To be honest, I never wanted to run long distance because I was worried about getting tired,” Gaffney said.

Short bursts of full effort are a key component of Gaffney’s ability to cross the finish line. She admitted sprinting does have its downfalls, including the toll it can takes on her physically.

“Sprinting is just a really taxing event because you’re pretty much pounding your body, even if it’s a short chunk of time,” Gaffney said.

Hershey’s track allowed Gaffney, a native of Chehalis, Washington, to compete locally, advance to events regionally and make it to Nationals.

Gaffney said she didn’t have to try out or wear anything special to be on the team; it was just all about running and setting free all your energy.

She competes in the 60- and 200-meter dashes during the indoor track season and the 100- and 200-meter dashes and the 4×100 relay during the outdoor.

She ran in the 60-meter preliminaries at the Ed Jacoby Invitational on Jan. 13, but was unable to compete in the finals after suffering a hamstring injury. At the WSU Indoor Open this weekend, Gaffney took first in the 60-meter dash.

She said an adrenaline rush flows through her veins when she steps on the track and sees the starting blocks.

“Probably five minutes before you race and you know you have to go get in those blocks before you run is just insane,” she said.

Gaffney said she gets in a zone and makes sure no one affects her routine prior to competing. Her routine takes about 30 minutes and includes stretching, jogging and mentally preparing herself for the race. She said visualizing her path to the white line that ends the race helps her perform at her peak ability and is a key factor in her success on the track.

When her feet hit the starting blocks and she looks up to gaze at the track in front of her, Gaffney admits she gets a little nervous.

“Getting in the blocks is just a whole different feeling because you know you have to run as hard as you can if you’re having a good day or a bad day, it doesn’t matter,” Gaffney said.

Roughly seven seconds is all it takes for Gaffney to go from the starting blocks to the finish line, so even a small mistake can have a huge impact, she said.

“There are no room for errors whatsoever,” Gaffney said. “You really have to get in those blocks and be like ‘Wow, I cannot mess up once.’ ”

Director of Cross Country/Track and Field Wayne Phipps said Gaffney’s athletic transformation was due in part to her dedication and willingness to adjust.

“I don’t know if that’s what she envisioned when she was in high school, but she’s just done a phenomenal job,” Phipps said.

Gaffney works with Associate Head Coach Yogi Teevens to hone her craft. Phipps said their relationship has turned Gaffney into a special athlete.

“[Gaffney] has worked hard and worked very well with coach Teevens to turn herself into what I believe is going to be one of the top sprinters in the Pac-12,” Phipps said, “and when you turn yourself into one of the top sprinters in the Pac-12, you’re right on track to being one of the top sprinters in the nation.”

Gaffney is pursuing a social sciences degree with an emphasis on business and communication. She enjoys interior design and hopes to own at least five wedding venues in the future so she can host summer weddings.

Regardless of where life takes her, she plans on continuing to run.