Thursday, April 9, 2015

Collinsworth sets marks for Harvard Track and Field

PHOTO: Gil Talbot, Harvard University. Harvard senior Ashley Collinsworth, a 2011 Highlands graduate, is in the school and Ivy League top performance lists in various indoor and outdoor sprints and relays. She's helped the Crimson to three indoor and an outdoor Ivy League title.
It is her final season wearing the Crimson and her name could be remembered for a long time after she graduates.

That is because Ashley Collinsworth has been etching her name in the top peformances in the history of Harvard University Crimson women's indoor and outdoor track and field. The 2011 Highlands graduate is serving as team co-captain on both squads for the season.

"Ashley is someone who constantly steps up in championship season," said Kebba Tolbert, Harvard Associate Head Track and Field Coach. "She is someone her teammates can come and talk to for guidance, perspective and advice. She is someone we as coaches can talk with for honest, unflinching feedback. So in many ways, she is a bridge for us. When Ashley is driven and focused, it's really something special to see. Each season when we get near the championship and start looking at points, we know she is someone we can count on in terms of her performance and mindset. I am looking forward to her finish this season and helping us contend for another championship this spring."

Collinsworth has enjoyed a heavy dose of winning since she came to Harvard. The Crimson have won three indoor and one outdoor Ivy League championship. But things did not start that way.

"It was a struggle my freshman year," Collinsworth said. "We weren't great by any means. Coach (Tolbert) came in and turned us into a championship program. We had to put in the work for that."

Collinsworth did some hurdling as a freshman, but runs sprints and relays. Individuals are not limited to the amount of events they can participate in at meets.

Collinsworth led off Harvard's conference record-setting 400-meter Relay team last year. She has also earned several All-Ivy honors in the 60 and 100-meter dashes along with the 400 and Mile relay teams. She ranks among the best in Ivy League history in the 60, 100-meter dashes and 400-meter relays.

Collinsworth is part of two school records in outdoor relays. Harvard set a new school record in 800-meter relay in 1:39.65 last year at the Florida Relays and the 400-meter relay in 45.4 seconds in the Ivy League championships.

"We work on handoffs once or twice a week," Collinsworth said. "Despite that, you can still mess them up. It's a brutal race. During the race, your doing all you can to hand the baton to your teammates."

Collinsworth set new personal bests during the indoor season in the sprints. She ran the 55-meter in 7.08 seconds in February and 7.44 seconds in the 60-meter dash. Her personal best in the 300 is 40.31 seconds.

Collinsworth took silver medal in the 100-meter dash in 11.78 seconds. Her personal best is 11.7 in that event and 24.17 seconds in the 200-meter dash. That came in the Ivy League Outdoor championships last year.

"A lot of that is practicing. You have to be patient and wait for the gun," Collinsworth said. "If you anticipate it, you will false start. You are disqualified the first time. So much goes through your mind during the race. You have to focus on your lane. What other do doesn't affect you. Once it's over, you wonder how all that went through your head in a short period of time."

Collinsworth is majoring in Psychology. She plans to work in either the Entertainment Industry or for a Non-Profit Marketing firm upon graduation. But despite the academic and athletic challenges, Collinsworth makes time for friends as well.

"It was tough at first," Collinsworth said. "But the older you get, the easier it gets. You learn when to go to the library and load up before a meet. We do work on the weeknights, even when we're tired. But this semester has been fun."

The Ivy League Heptagonal Championships will take place May 9 and 10 in Philadelphia.

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