Clarke sets record-breaking sprints

North Dakota runner competes in 200 and 400 meter runs, records personal best times


Sophomore Stephanie Clarke sprints for the UND track team. Photo courtesy of UND Athletics.

Sophomore sprinter Stephanie Clarke continues to break school records.

She most recently broke two at the Big Sky Conference Indoor Championship, where she outran herself in both the 200 and the 400 meter runs.

Clarke first set a new bar in both preliminary races Friday, and continued on to break her own records in both races again Saturday in finals.

“(Beating my own record) was probably much more fulfilling,” Clarke said. “That was definitely a lot more satisfying, because to know that I can beat myself … to know that I can break it once, rest for one night, and then do it again, beat myself again, that is fantastic.”

Clarke ran the 200-meter dash in 24.13 seconds, kicking her previous record of 24.24 down a notch. She placed second in the event. Her preliminary 400-meter time of 55.43 was also quickly demolished, and Clarke claimed fourth place in the event with a time of 55.01 seconds, earning her All-Big Sky Conference honors.

“To be honest, what I think about is, think of the one person who you really want to see.” Clarke said. “Imagine they are standing right at the finish line and you want to race right up to them … I would never forgive myself if I ever stopped during a race. I finish because, what’s the point of trying to prove I’m the best at something if I’m just going to quit halfway?

“I just tell myself, ‘it’s right there. You’ve made it this far, you can make it to the end.’ ”

And who does she see?

“I picture family members, best friends,” Clarke said. “Sometimes, Ronald McDonald if I’m really hungry or something going into a race.”

UND head coach Kevin Galbraith recognizes Clarke’s efforts and is impressed with the underclassmen’s ability to bounce back quickly from races.

“Steph had just a stellar weekend,” UNDcoach Kevin Galbraith said. “She stepped in and had a very challenging double with the 200 and 400 and, on top of that, the 4×400. She only had about 40 minutes before she had to jump back on the track and anchor the 4×400.”

Clarke is happy with her performances at the indoor championships, but this isn’t the first year the Edmonton, Alta. native has out-run a former athlete.

As a freshman, Clarke broke four different school records, ending her season with UND Female Rookie of the Year (for all sports) honors.

She set new standards in the indoor and outdoor 400-meters and also the indoor and outdoor 200-meters. Last season, she also broke her own indoor 400 record at the Big Sky Conference Championship with a time of 55.61 seconds, a time she beat by over half a second in early March.

“Without a doubt, this was our best Big Sky meet ever,” Galbraith said. “That doesn’t yet show up in the team scores … As we fill the gaps after our top performers, our team position is only going to get better and better.”

The UND women’s track and field team opens its outdoor season after two weeks of idleness, heading to the UNC-Wilmington Seahawk Invitational Friday and Saturday.

Despite Clarke’s strong finish to the indoor season, she is hungry for more record-breaking.

“The indoor season ended much better than what I thought it was going to going into the conference,” Clarke said. “I can definitely say I’m happy with the season so far. Now it’s just a matter of do it again, outdoors, but better.”

Marie Monson is the multimedia editor for The Dakota Student. She can be reached at [email protected].