Track Star Wins National Title in Hurdles

Photo: Mike Peters

Heather Gearity

A split second. It’s often the difference between winning or losing, between breaking a record or just being part of the pack.

For Heather Gearity, one last push at the end of the 400-meter hurdles in May meant winning the NCAA National Championship by 9/100ths of a second in a race she finished in just over a minute.

“It happened so quickly,” recalls Gearity, a junior. “I fell to third coming off the last hurdle, but inside, I knew I still had a chance to win. I was either coming in first, second, or third, so I just started moving my arms and legs as fast as I could.”

At the end, it was so close that she wasn’t sure if she won with her time of 1:00.27 until she saw her name on the board and heard it announced. “I took a deep breath and looked up and there it was,” she recalls.

Gearity has been on both sides of close races before.

Last year, she finished runner up in the 400-meter hurdles in the same championship race by little more than a second’s difference.

This year’s NCAA championship capped off a stellar outdoor campaign for the now twotime All-American, who was also named the U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association’s Atlantic Region Track Athlete of the Year and NJAC Outstanding Athlete of the Year.

She also had a standout year in academics, earning Academic All-America honors.

The biology major returns to Montclair State to continue her studies and to run track for two more seasons. “I’m excited that I won but also a little nervous because now I have to go harder and try to get it again,” she says.