Stewart Begins All-America Quest Thursday In Eugene
NT Graduate Student To Compete In 100-Meter and 400-Meter Hurdles
DENTON – Graduate student Chastity Stewart will compete on the national stage Thursday, June 9, at the 2016 NCAA outdoor track & field championships in Eugene, Ore., starting with the 100-meter hurdles at 7:30 p.m. CT broadcast on ESPN.
Stewart will have a second chance to earn All-America status in the 400-meter hurdles Thursday at 8:30 p.m.
Stewart is no stranger to competing at the NCAA championships after placing 24th in the 400-meter hurdles in 2014. Stewart, battling injuries throughout the season, ran in the second heat and posted a time of 1:07.90.
“2014 was a tough year, going through injuries and using all her energy just to qualify for nationals really took a toll on her mentality,” head coach Carl Sheffield said. “The competitor in her fought to advance, but she was just glad she had made it.”
“By the time nationals came around I was worn down physically and mentally,” Stewart said. “I let the injury really get to me but it was important to have a good experience and get a feel for the track.”
Since 2000, five North Texas track & field student-athletes have earned All-America honors, and Stewart hopes to be the sixth. Former hurdler Alysha Adams came close in 2010 with a 17th place finish in the 100-meter hurdles. If Stewart finishes 15th or better in either event, she would become Mean Green’s first female hurdler to earn All-America honors.
“My goal is to finish top-eight, and I know it is going to take a lot having to run a lifetime best, but there is no doubt in my mind that God will bring me through,” Stewart said.
After sitting out 2014-15 while recovering from her injuries, Stewart has returned to form posting three first-place finishes in the 400m hurdles and five first-place finishes in the 100m hurdles, and breaking school records in both events.
“You would think that after five years an athlete would get better each season, but Chastity has overachieved her best this season,” Sheffield said. “I think this is just a testament to how hard she has worked to finish her athletic career off.”
“I had goals to break both records when I signed to North Texas,” Stewart said. “The previous record holder was my host for my visit, and it was such an honor to shadow her during my visit.”
Stewart holds all five top performances in school history in the 400-meter hurdles and has secured two of the five fastest performances in the 100-meter hurdles.
“She has made her mark on this program just by how fast her times are,” Sheffield said. “People will come back and say, ‘I remember I was on the team when Chastity was here,’ just because of her personality as well as excelling in the classroom. Someone said you have to go replace her now, but we won’t replace her. We just have to pray that we get someone along the way that can be as good as she was.”