OGDEN — Tawnie Moore learned some time ago that winning the mental side of competition is a foundation for success.
It helped the senior hurdler at Weber State as she entered the program out of Fremont High School. She wasn’t as strong and refined as other college athletes. She was a state champion in the 100 meter hurdles as a senior at Fremont but found herself no longer the best in college.
“If I was able to defeat people mentally and gain control of my emotions and my nerves, then I could have that edge on people,” Moore said. “I knew the physical strength and other stuff would develop along the way but, if I was able to mentally be prepared for things, I’d have an advantage.”
The “other stuff” did develop and now, after racing to a Big Sky Conference record at the event, Moore will run the 100 meter hurdles at the NCAA West Regionals from May 23-25.
That was a record she set sights on as soon as she stepped on campus. She broke it one month ago at the Bryan Clay Invitational at Azusa Pacific, running a 13.25.
“I just knew there was more in me,” Moore said.
At the Big Sky Championships in Missoula, Montana, she focused on that mental edge. And there was more for Moore: she cut her time down to 13.11, again breaking the conference record.
“It was my senior conference meet, the last time I will represent Weber at the Big Sky Conference championships, so I just had to lay it all out on the track,” she said. “It was a now-or-never thing and I felt strong that day, I had all the support … it was a perfect moment, and I utilized that moment to shine through and get that faster time.”
The mental game continues. This year’s NCAA West Regional meet is hosted by Sacramento State, the place where Moore ran the 100 hurdles in 13.37 seconds to win the 2017 conference crown.
“To me it does (matter) because I can visualize the track. I’ve already seen it and felt how it feels to be out there,” she said. “I’m a very mental, visual person, so if I’m able to see the track and what I’m going to be looking at when it’s race day, I can kind of control my emotional response and my nerves that way.”
She’s the kind of person who always says ‘I can do this’ and finds a way to do it, hurdles coach Tiffany Hogan said.
Take, for example, that Moore recently walked in graduation ceremonies — not for a bachelor’s degree, but with a master’s of professional communication. It’s that kind of individual drive that helps her succeed on the track in a sport that’s mostly between you, your technique, your work ethic and the clock.
“Tawnie has amazing intrinsic motivation. She has such a strong desire to get faster and takes care of herself off the track. She’s never satisfied with where she has been, so she’s always working to achieve more,” Hogan said. “I love it, she’s one of those athletes I have to pull back so she doesn’t do so many reps. She’s a great leader and she’s a student of the sport.”
Moore hopes to continue running professionally and strive for the Olympics while also continuing her work in public relations and marketing. She certainly has the right people in her corner.
Paul Pilkington, head women’s track coach, was a four-time Olympic Trials qualifier, ran in the 1995 World Championships and won the 1994 Los Angeles Marathon.
Hogan, a heptathlete by trade, holds the world record in the indoor 55 meter hurdles (7.30 seconds). She won the heptathlon at the 2003 Pan American Games and competed in the event at the 2004 Olympics in Athens.
Moore said “it will be nice to have those two” in her corner to navigate those post-college steps.
“The next level is to become great and she’s on the ladder to do that. She wants to break some of my records,” Hogan said. “I hope I can get her there.”
That may be next but, for now, it’s the regional meet in Sacramento where she returns to the national stage after injury kept her out last season.
“It will be a new experience, but I definitely remember how it felt racing at that meet two years ago simply because that was one of my first high-level meets and I was kind of starstruck,” Moore said. “I loved it and loved racing there, but at that time I wasn’t at my peak.
“I feel like this year I’m ready. I’m mentally trained, I’m physically prepared.”
NINE WILDCATS CONTINUE
Moore is one of nine Weber State athletes to qualify for the West Regional. On the women’s side, Kate Sorensen (400 meter hurdles), Lindsey Johnson (high jump), Paige Van Meeteren (high jump), Emily Morgan (100 meters) and Lexie Thompson (10,000 meters) will compete. For the men, Nathan Dunivan (discus), Keaton Pace (javelin) and Tracen Warnick (1,500 meters) will be in action.