Track and field seniors reflect on their careers
Courtesy: Mattison Huggins, Appalachian State Sports Information (April 2014)
Many struggle to find a passion, however, Breanna Alston and Jamal Tiller have both invested hard work throughout the years, as many athletes do, to their passion. These seniors and veterans of the Appalachian State track and field team will not only be missed because of their extraordinary athleticism but also for their amazing personalities and leadership roles.
Alston, the “Most Outstanding Athlete” at the 2014 Indoor Conference meet, has been running for 14 years and has found success while here at Appalachian. Alston has gathered eight individual conference titles, winning the 200m dash at every conference meet, but one, over her career. Drawing her inspiration from setting examples for others through being a good role model on and off of the track, she looks for encouragement in her bible every night before she performs.
Tiller, another senior at Appalachian, has been running since his sophomore year of high school when he decided to transition from basketball, a sport he had played his whole life, to track as a triple jumper. Tiller has won four individual titles in the triple jump while at App State, with his most recent first-place finish coming at the 2014 indoor championships. He has built a love for the sport and is most thankful for the friends he has gained from this opportunity at Appalachian.
A sense of humor is not a quality these two lack, as Alston hopes to be remembered by not only her skills, but her goofiness, and Tiller hopes others remember his great legs. When asked if they could race anyone dead or alive, Alston said her great grandfather and Tiller mentioned his older brother. Although Alston has never met her great grandfather, he has had a major impact on her life along with many other family members. Jamal also chose his brother due to the impact he has had on his life. While Jamal has not had the chance to race his brother, who was also a triple jumper, he would love to be able to beat him in a race.
After reflecting on many meets, friends, experiences and the knowledge they have gained throughout their collegiate journey as athletes, Alston and Tiller agree it will be hard for them to leave Appalachian.
Alston, a psychology major, wishes to continue track by pursuing a professional running career and hopefully competing in the Olympics eventually. However, running isn't her only passion as she loves children and helping others. Alston has also always seen herself working with natural sciences and medicine.
Tiller, an accounting major, would love to be able to travel and fulfill his purpose in life, just as Paulo Coehlo's characters do in “The Alchemist,” Jamal's favorite book.
No matter where these two seniors end up, they want to encourage incoming athletes to always build each other up and never to tear each other down. Both grateful for their college experience as athletes, they state the importance of being focused, but having fun with what you love to do. They both agree it is important to not overthink while performing and to always remain confident in your abilities.
At the Southern Conference Championships in late April, Tiller and Alston rounded out their Appalachian careers on a high note. Tiller won the SoCon triple jump title with a mark of 49-4.1. Alston finished second in the 400m dash, making her the new App State record holder in the event with a time of 54.00.