As if it wasn't enough for Jeshua Anderson to win his first USA Track and Field national championship on Sunday, he picked up another award Monday when the Pac-10 named him its Male Track Athlete Of The Year.
Anderson, a 400-meter hurdler, has had what has to be considered one of the great years in WSU sports history, winning his fourth consecutive Pac-10 title, his third NCAA title and his first USA Track and Field title. His winning time of 47.93 seconds on Sunday was a personal best and the fastest in the country this year, topping his 48.13 seconds in the Pac-10 championships.
He is now qualified for his first IAAF World Championships at the end of August in Daegu, South Korea, and will also represent the U.S. in the World University Games in mid-August , in Shenzhen, China. He'll make his professional debut on July 22 at the Herculis Meet in Monaco.
It's been a lot of fun watching from afar as Anderson developed from a decent wide receiver/track phenom into an elite, world-class athlete. He struggled with injuries last year and ended up finishing second in the NCAAs and fifth in nationals (nearly two seconds off the pace), and made it a point this year to talk about what he head learned from competing against the best. He talked about pacing himself so that he was ready to run his fastest race when it mattered most.
"These past few days I haven't been running like I've been running in practice," Anderson told WSU Sports Information after the West Preliminaries. I've been cruising through and trying to make it through the rounds and get to the NCs. I learned about racing smart (as opposed to fast) through all these years of running against pros at the Olympic Trials and the USAs. They run a lot smarter and try and conserve as much energy as you can.
"That's the big plan: to hold onto whatever strength level you have and let loose once you get to the final. I'm sure I'll be running a fast time on that Mondo track in Des Moines."
Anyone who watched Sunday's race can hardly doubt that was the case. He gave that race every last bit of what he had, using all of his 6-foot-2 frame to barely edge out Bershawn Jackson, tumbling over the finish line as he did so. The subsequent celebration was a sight to behold.
Here's to hoping he'll have enough left in the tank to finish the season strong in the next two months.
Beyond making Cougar Nation proud for his athletic achievements, Anderson is doing his best to make us all proud with his humility off the track. He responds to most people who hit him up on Twitter; here's a look at how he handles himself in interviews, this one from after his win on Sunday:
So happy for the guy. He's a class act.