At the beginning of the indoor track and field season, Niata Alexander was approached by Troy coach Marc Davis to try a new approach.
Alexander, a former standout at New Manchester High, was reluctant at first, but was willing to trust the ‘process’ in hopes of some successful results.
Heading into Friday’s first outdoor meet, Alexander is beaming with confidence after a successful Sun Belt Conference Indoor Championship meet.
“I just remember that my indoor season at conference last season didn’t end like I wanted it to,” Alexander said. “I was willing to make a change in hopes of better results. My coach asked me was I up to the challenge. The feeling I had after my junior year put a spark under me to go all out.”
And she saw some big results at the conference championship at the Birmingham CrossPlex last month.
Although she missed out on an individual victory by just two hundredths of a second in the 400-meters, the senior had a good showing. She was second in the 400 and also runner-up in the 200.
Alexander finished third in the 60 event and helped lead the 1,600 relay to a runner-up finish.
Not bad for an athlete that once considered skipping college.
“I was given harder workouts, and I changed my mindset,” Alexander said. “I maxed out on my weights and felt stronger this season. It was just a matter of trusting the process.”
She went 23.76 seconds in the 200 to set a new program record and had a time of 54.41 to break her own school record in the 400 race.
Alexander’s time of 7.42 was a personal-best in the 60 event.
Not a bad way to end her indoor collegiate career.
“What can we say about her,” Davis said. “Last year, I told her at the Indoor Championships that she was going to run all three sprint races (60, 200, 400) plus the 4x4. She was second in two individual race and the relay, and third in another. She also crushed two school records in the process.”
The outdoor season starts on Friday for Troy at the Jaguar Classic in Mobile, Ala., for Alexander and her teammates.
Alexander will run the outdoor season unattached as she redshirt, which will also allow her another year to work towards her social work degree.
“Mentally, she is a very good competitor,” Davis said. “Right now, she is one of the toughest kids on the team.”
Coming out of New Manchester, Alexander said she had pretty much made up her mind not to attend college.
However, after getting an offer from Troy, she changed her mind.
“Honestly, I didn’t know what I was going to do,” Alexander said. “I really didn’t like school, and I semi-liked track. I begin to fall in love with it, and I wanted to see how far I could go.”
Her next step is hopefully securing an NCAA qualifying time.
“We are going to continue to test this new process,” Alexander said. “I think my mindset is a lot stronger now.”