An Examination Of Erica Benson

(Photo provided by Erica Benson)

First of all, how did you first get involved with track & field?

When I was little, I lived in Grand Forks ND and my parents brought me to community track meets for kids in the summer. I tried softball but was never very good at it, and I always loved track so I signed up in 7th grade.

What are all your personal records?

60m- 8.19, 100m-12.73, 200m- 26.01, 400m-60.54, 300m hurdles- 45.71, high jump- 5'7"

Do you do, or have you done, any other sports?

I did gymnastics my freshman year and I have done cross country my sophomore through my senior year.

What is your favorite or most memorable competition you've ever been in?

One of my most memorable experiences in track was my sophomore year, when I ran the 4x200 on the same team as my older sister, Christa. At every meet, watching her run her hardest motivated me to run my hardest when I took the baton from her. Our 4x200 qualified for State that year and it was really fun to have my first State experience be with her.

Other than your own teammates, who are some of your favorite athletes to compete against?

Running against Emma Baynes from Mankato East is fun because even though our teams are rivals, we have become good friends and she always pushes me to run my fastest. I've also been lucky enough to compete against Molly Reighard from Waconia in a few events during Summer track and at our Section meet. She is a challenging competitor, but also a great sport and I enjoy talking to her before and after our races. In the high jump, I like competing against Katie Eidem from Rochester Century because she is very talented and I always have to be at my best when I jump against her.

Who are some people that have been most helpful to you in your athletic career?

Of course, all my coaches have been awesome throughout my track career. In addition, my parents have been very supportive. My mom makes me pasta the night before every meet. Both my mom and dad have made it a priority to come to all of my meets and videotape me so I can analyze my performance which is very helpful, especially in high jump.

(Photo provided by Erica Benson)

What is it like having a teammate like Aliyah Dawkins to help you train and compete against?

I love having Aliyah as a teammate because she brings a good time to the sport and always knows how to make me laugh. Having a teammate at the same level as me pushes me to perform to my full potential. Aliyah is a hard worker and is someone I can always count on to put in extra work and come to optional practices. We have become really close friends over the past few years and have developed a pre-meet routine to help us get ready for our big meets. With her being only a junior, I am very proud of what she has accomplished and I know she still has big things ahead of her next year and beyond.

What is a challenge you have had to face as an athlete?

One of the most challenging things I have had to face as an athlete is checking in and out of high jump to run other events at meets. It's stressful when my race is coming up and I haven't even gotten a chance to jump my opening height. However, I have learned to manage this over the years and have actually had some of my best jumps right after a race.

As a senior, how have your perspectives, strategies, or attitudes changed since you first started running, what advice would you give to younger track athletes?

Each year I have developed a better work ethic. The last two years I have started doing more workouts on my own leading up to the track season and continuing throughout which has helped contribute to my individual as well as my team's success. I have learned the importance of having a positive attitude at meets and practices because your attitude can be the difference between a good day and a bad day. Another thing I have learned throughout my years in track is how to set goals. My advice to younger track athletes is to set end of the season goals and to set smaller goals throughout the season to help you work up to that final goal. I would also stress the importance of hard work at practice and never taking the easy way out, because whatever you put in is what you will get out of it. Most importantly, have fun and make the most of every day because the years go by really fast!

(Photo provided by Erica Benson)

What are your main goals for this upcoming track season?

This season, I'd like to qualify for State again in both high jump and the 300 hurdles and to break the school records in both those events.

How are you feeling about where you are at performance and training-wise this season?

Training wise, I feel that I am stronger than I was last year at this time after lifting more in the offseason and doing plyometrics all winter with the other jumpers. As for performance, I feel that I have had a decent start to the season. We haven't had very good weather for our meets so it has been hard to have really good performances. Despite that, I feel confident that I will be able to peak at the end of the season and have my best performances when it really matters, at the Conference, Section and State meets.

Do you have any college plans yet?

My plans next year are to attend the University of North Dakota to compete in track and pursue a Nursing degree.

What were some of the things that helped you decide on UND?

I grew up in Grand Forks and always had a love for the town. When I went on my official visit at UND, the coaches and athletes I met were very welcoming and made me feel at home. I really liked the campus and the brand new 300m indoor track facility. I also am lucky to have the opportunity to get into the Nursing program there.

Do you have any rituals, routines, or superstitions either on or off the track?

I wear my hair in two braids at every meet and I don't wear socks with my sprint spikes because I think it makes me faster. I also like to write my goals on my hand before each meet.

When not doing anything track-related, what might we find you doing?

You could find me working at Panera Bread, or with my friends bowling or rollerblading. 

Tell me one bizarre fact about yourself.

I can recite 85 digits of pi by memory.

(Photo provided by Erica Benson)