SF State student breaks school track record

Star sprinter, Alexis Henry, finishes at 24.16 seconds running the 200m

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Alexis Henry poses for a photo in Cox Stadium. (Sandy Scarpa / Golden Gate Xpress).

Grady Duggan, Sports Editor

SF State track and field athlete, Alexis Henry, etched her name into the record books earlier this month. The track and field team traveled to Michigan to compete in Grand Valley State’s Big Meet on Feb. 14-15 and Henry set a new SF State record by running the 200m in 24.16 seconds, beating all other 76 participants. She also placed second in the 400m with a time of 54.25 seconds. These times put her at the top of the competition, but the star sprinter has her eyes set on much higher aspirations.

Both of those times are qualifying marks for the NCAA Division II Indoor Track and Field Championship in Birmingham, Alabama the weekend of March 13. Henry is familiar with the event after running at it in previous years and her experience is something that will provide her the ability to remain tranquil.

“You would think it’s more nerve racking, and it was my first time, but once you really establish yourself and understand who you are, it’s more lively,” Henry said. “I will use my experience in a way that brings me a sense of calming. These are people who wake up everyday like me, we’re all human, we’re the same. Nobody is much better than everybody else, it’s just like who is going to show up today?”

While Henry has picked up some momentum as the NCAA championship meet approaches, she noted that it took her a bit to get to where she wanted to be. Not racing as well as she liked to start the season, Henry said she had to find a way to break out of her slump.

“This season started off a little rocky. It was a little more me being in my head and thinking too much about what I wanted to do rather than just doing what I am capable of. So, the mental aspect of track took over. It really is 90% mental and 10% physical. If you’re not mentally sound, not ready, it’s not going to show on the track.”

You would think it’s more nerve racking, and it was my first time, but once you really establish yourself and understand who you are, it’s more lively”

— Alexis Henry

Persistence can be key for an athlete when trying to get back to performing up to their standards. Her coaches took notice of her approach to getting back to where she wanted to be. 

She really understood what it would take to be ready to run at this time,” Tom Lyons, San Francisco State’s head track and field coach said. “She showed great patience and confidence throughout the fall and winter . . . Alexis is a very talented athlete. She has put consistent work in to improve. It’s her focus and determination and clear goals that has led to her impressive results.”

She said breaking the schools 200m record was refreshing, allowing her to break out of her slump and bring her confidence back into her running. She coined it as her “reawakening.”

It can be hard for athletes to break out of their slumps and each one often has their own methods in trying to do so. A baseball player may change up his swing, a basketball player may try new sneakers and a football player could try working to a new trainer, but Henry had a different tactic that helped take her performance to the next level.

“I had to get myself out of that little stagnated period of time . . .  I started to meditate a lot again. It really cleared my mind of the thoughts that weren’t real.”

Henry’s impressive resurgence as of late has given her the opportunity to continue running after her final season at SFSU concludes this March. Her times that she has posted over the past month qualified her for the Olympic trials.

“The Olympic trials are this summer and that is what I am working towards. I will be going back home  to train, continue to work, run in meets – hit that time and I’m eligible to go to the Olympic trials. It doesn’t mean I’m necessarily going to the Olympics, but I ran fast enough to try out.”

Henry will travel to Boston University and Stanislaus State for two more meets before heading to Alabama for the NCAA Division II NCAA Indoor Track & Field Championship, where she said she has one thing on her mind.

“To win.”