Brianna Leslie, a junior from Azusa Pacific University, won the 2012 NAIA women’s heptathlon competition Friday.
“I feel great. I feel like I can breathe again. This environment is amazing,” said Leslie. “NAIA, I love it out here. I love the girls I competed with, and my coaches stayed with me the whole way. It was great.”
Throughout the fierce competition, Leslie was one to watch. Maintaining a slight lead for most of the competition, Leslie lost the top standing just before going into the last event, the 800-meter run.
“I shouldn’t have been worried. My coaches told me not to worry,” said Leslie. “But I was freaking out.”
Leslie finished the race in 2:14.82, putting her back on top.
“I knew Leslie would be my biggest competitor,” said Briana Vander Woude, a junior from Dordt College. Vander Woude came in second in the overall competition.
Leslie said her strategy coming into the heptathlon was to stay calm and relaxed.
“A lot of times athletes come out of here and expect big scores because it’s nationals. When that happens, you can let yourself down easily. And its important to keep a level head the whole time,” said Leslie.
Leslie will compete in the women’s 100-meter hurdle and 4-by-400 Saturday evening. But she said she is glad to be done with the heptathlon event.
“[It's a] huge weight off my shoulders,” said Leslie. “Seven events down, onto the next two. Don’t have to worry about that anymore. It’s nice.”