Sophomore track and field runner Dericka Braden is eager to compete this season. To prepare for track season, Braden competes with the Cal State Los Angeles Cross Country team. She mentioned how cross country has made her stronger.
“Cross country, at first it’s tough to become accustomed to running for so long and learning how to pace yourself,” Braden said. “In cross country, you have to dial back a little bit so you can last the whole workout.”
A proud moment for Braden was when she qualified for the women’s indoor track squad last season. Cal State L.A. sprinters vie for a spot through what is called the Challenge Relays where sprinters are split into groups and run the 400m. The women with the top six times make the indoor team.
“Being able to make it to the indoor team was probably a really big moment for me,” she said.
An injury would sideline Braden for her freshman track and field season.
“I pulled both my hamstrings,” Braden said. “The season was mostly about getting over my injury, getting back healthy so that this year will be way better.”
Braden noticed her own speed while playing soccer during her childhood years. She then wanted to give track a chance.
“I was faster than a lot of people on the soccer team,” Braden said. “I would be able to run longer than them in our test.”
As a high school student, she prioritized running track and helped the Peachtree Ridge high school track team win three consecutive regional championships.
Currently, Braden’s favorite class is her Pan African studies class, she noted how she learned a lot of new facts about her own race.
“I really like it because I thought I knew about African American history,” Braden said. “Everyday us like going into depth about something that I didn’t know about.”
Braden is a biology major with the hopes of becoming allergist. In high school, Braden wanted to become an emergency room doctor.
“I’m allergic to all citrus products,” Braden said. “I would love to help people that are like me, have allergies just like me.”
Along with track and academics, Braden is a member of the Student Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC).
“We help out a lot of the games and we promote a lot of the athletic events,” she said. “We promote a lot of stuff about NCAA and about sports in general.”
Braden noted how remaining focused is key to keep balancing all of her obligations, it also helps to develop a plan to attack your studies.
“I feel like it’s not that hard if you just really concentrate,” she said. “I’ll go to the library and I’ll make the sacrifice from going home and getting in the bed and being tempted.”
Braden wants all aspiring runners to know that there will always be ups and downs in track and field.
“Trust your training, be patient,” she said. “Track is just physically and mentally tough on one person so you just have to be really dedicated and you have to be willing to put in extra.”
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