On your mark. Get set. Go. 

These are the words that freshman Alana Wilson is always eager to hear. Wilson has been running track since the sixth grade and quickly saw great levels of success. However, while her success came fast, the work she put in and the unique access to resources helped accelerate her progression.

Having grown up around the sport’s greatest athletes from their connection to her dad exposed Wilson to the glamor of the sport. She has received lots of beneficial information on sprinting from some of the USA’s greatest track athletes such as Olympian and four-time World Champion Justin Gatlin, Olympian and one-time World Champion Harvey Glance and three-time record holder Renaldo Nehemiah. This unique advantage propels Wilson in front of her competition, causing her to be leaps and bounds ahead of her classmates. 

“I have learned to apply the abundance of tips I have received to my daily sprinting regimen to have a perfect textbook sprint form,” Wilson said. “My support system helps me a ton; they help give me tips and pointers to ensure I am the best version of myself.”

Wilson has played other sports, but none gave her as much success and growth as track and field. Her events are the 100m, 200m, 4x100m relay and the 4x400m relay, with her favorite and best event being the 200m. Her coach, Angie Milford, recognizes the diversity of her events and how hard she works to excel in all of them.

“Alana has these amazing opportunities to not only watch but practice beside world class runners such as Justin Gatlin from time to time,” Milford said. “Being around this high level of athletes, she sees the commitment, the work ethic, the physical and mental toughness it takes to reach where they have. This has instilled in her the same work ethics and commitment to become the best she can be.”

Track season starts in mid-February and ends in late May, but Wilson is training all year long, excluding her break from June through July. Every month outside of track season is the off-season for athletes, and most don’t train as hard and aren’t as motivated because of it being hard to train without practices scheduled each day. As successful as Wilson is, she still faces adversity like everyone else. Her lack of motivation that occurs during the off-season can lessen the training she does, causing her to be less fit when the season starts.

“Training alone can get boring,” Wilson said. “But it always pays off when the season comes because I have had time to get to know my body and rhythm more. Once school starts, I weight train to ensure all muscles can recover and build strength for the next coming season.”

Her motivation isn’t an issue, however, during the season. Having her teammates that she can look up to keeps her moving as she’s not only running for herself, but for her team as well. 

“A great team helps me so much,” Wilson said. “They push me to be the best version of myself and strive for perfection. I love to see the success of others and myself. When the team can create great memories and have fun together, it creates a positive atmosphere. Seeing my teammates, whom I look up to, give everything their all inspires me to do the same. Encouraging others is so important; when you encourage your peers to strive, it creates good karma.”

All of the motivation Wilson has to push herself for fast times and her team can amount to a lot of stress to deal with; especially with running on varsity and participating in big meets at a much younger age than the average person. However, Wilson makes sure to take measures to avoid the build-up of too much stress, all of which include: getting plenty of sleep each night, spending lots of time outdoors, such as swimming and tanning as well as spending the weekend with friends and family.

Wilson stays ahead of her competition by becoming familiar with them. She knows her local competition well from being around them so often. In an attempt to become familiar with competition at away meets at schools she doesn’t know well, Wilson looks her competitors up on MileSplit to avoid the unknown component and get rid of extra nerves. Being on varsity so early helped her perfect this technique, cutting out factors that contribute to slower times, such as nerves from the unknown. 

“From the very beginning of my first varsity season, I never faced intimidation because I had trained with upperclassmen and did very well with them,” Wilson said. “I knew I could compete against much older competition. The following season, I was so familiar with my competition that I was never phased because I was constantly exposed to upperclassmen from the next year, so it felt like I was one of them.”

Through her experience thus far in her track career and from the advice she has gained from some of the greatest athletes in track and field, Wilson is on the road to be an even greater athlete. Her willingness to be a great teammate and learn from others transfers to her mentality on and off the track.

“Never compare yourself to others because everyone is different and progresses at different paces in life,” Wilson said. “The biggest competition you’ll ever have is yourself. Everyone should focus on being better than they were yesterday.”

Her attitude towards putting in effort and time has been recognized by others and has put her on track to become a great leader and runner. 

“Alana has an exciting future because she understands this is a process,” Milford said. “She works hard now knowing and hoping it will pay off years down the road. And, it will.”