A split second. It’s often the difference
between winning or losing, between breaking a record or just being part of the
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
Gearity has been on both sides of close races
Last year, she finished runner up in the
400-meter hurdles in the same championship race by little more than a second’s
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.