Graduating senior track quint-captain Alexis Harrison did not become the fourth fastest NCAA Div. III woman to ever compete in the 60-meter, or the national runner-up in the event, overnight; her accomplishments have been in the works since she first stepped foot onto the tracks at Gantcher and Ellis Oval a little over three years ago.
As a first-year, Harrison showed promise, qualifying for the Div. III New England Indoor Championships in the 55-meter and running 7.39 seconds. The highlight of her first year was the 2013 NESCAC Championships where she ran 12.38 seconds in the 100-meter to take second, 25.65 seconds in the 200-meter for third and leaped 17 ft. 6 1/4 in. in the long jump to take fourth. She also ran on the 4×100 meter relay team, comprised of Harrison, Christina Harvey (LA ’15), Anya Kaufmann (LA ’14) and Samantha Bissonnette (LA ’13), that won the meet with a time of 48.27 seconds. Tufts won the NESCAC Championship at home that year.
“Freshman year was really special for me along with that senior class,” Harrison said. “Witnessing the thrower squad dominate at track meets was really impressive to me and definitely motivated me to play a big part on the team. In my own event group, Anya Kaufmann had a great athlete’s mindset to work hard every day and strive to be better which I looked up to and wanted to emulate. Christina Harvey had similar characteristics, and I always took note of her pristine running form.”
As a sophomore, Harrison improved greatly during indoors, but really hit her stride outdoors. She qualified for the NCAA Div. III outdoor national championships where she placed 12th in the 100-meter with a 12.11-second time.
“Qualifying for outdoor nationals my sophomore year was really new and exciting,” she said. “I remember being so nervous and honored to be among some of the best athletes in the country. I took in every moment I could because it was really special for me.”
Though her junior year indoor season was relatively quiet, she obliterated the outdoor season, winning three of the five events she competed in at NESCACs and placing second in a fourth one. She again qualified for outdoor nationals, where she placed 20th overall in the 100-meter dash.
This season has been a coronation for Harrison. She steamrolled her way through the indoor season, running the fourth fastest 60-meter time in Division III history (7.55 seconds) and taking second in the event at nationals. So far in the outdoor season, she has run the third fastest 100-meter time in the nation at 11.88 seconds, but more is yet to come as the championship season continues.
Harrison believes her four years at Tufts gave her ample opportunity to develop.
“I’ve matured a lot mentally and physically over the last four years,” she said. “I’ve grown more confident in my abilities and myself, and I’ve studied the mentalities and techniques of my idols at Tufts and in professional track and field.”
As she graduates, Harrison leaves a few choice words of wisdom for her teammates.
“My final message would be to never doubt yourself and always believe that you are capable of greatness,” she said. “If you truly want something, you can get it.”