Jessica Beard will leave Texas A&M this season with the second-most accolades of any woman track star at her school. It’s amazing what turkey burgers and cherry juice will do for you.
OK, those dietary choices aren’t the full menu for Beard, but they are illustrative of choices – seemingly small but good ones – that she has routinely made that have added up to remarkable success in her senior season with the Aggies’ track squad.
“I haven’t had a real hamburger in about a month,” Beard said. “It’s just the sacrifice you make. It’s hard, but you have to have the mindset that you have goals in mind you want to achieve. I won’t eat Snickers, no pop. When we go through airports you have to pass up Wendy’s and go for real food. Little things like that add up and make a big difference.”
And who can argue with her success. It’s evidently working for Beard, a senior from Euclid, Ohio.
Most recently at the Penn Relays, Beard, along with Jeneba Tarmoh, Ashley Collier, Jessica Beard and Dominique Duncan cruised to a 1:29.96 victory in the 4×200 against Texas (1:30.93), Clemson (1:33.62), Central Florida (1:34.18), Pittsburgh (1:35.42), and Tennessee (1:35.83). Auburn, the runner-up the past two years, did not finish.
“It was great for our team,” Beard said of the Penn Relays. “Coach [Vince] Anderson contributed to it, talking about working on exchanges. We knew Auburn and Texas would give us competition.
“We didn’t go in thinking about breaking records. We just wanted to run better than what we did in the Texas Relays. It was a cool experience and a really good learning experience. It is something to build on.”
Beard has been building an incredible career. Through the indoor season, Beard has earned 14 All-America honors, second most in school history. Beard became the first Aggie female to win an individual indoor title when she claimed her first individual NCAA gold in the 400 at the NCAA Indoor meet Texas A&M hosted this past March. Beard has been runner-up at the NCAA Outdoor 400 the past two years.
In the Big 12, Beard has won every 400 title she has contested since her freshman year. That includes four Big 12 Indoor titles (2008, 2009, 2010, 2011) and three Big 12 Outdoor title (2008, 2009, 2010) with her final conference meet coming up this month.
She recently ran a split of 49.6 twice (prelims and finals) during the Texas Relays as A&M won the women’s 4 x 400 for the first time in history with a 3:27.33 that made Texas A&M the fourth fastest school in history.
Beard has also ran on three national champion relay teams – 2009 NCAA Indoor 4 x 400, 2010 NCAA Outdoor 4 x 100, 2011 NCAA Indoor 4 x 400. She also earned a relay gold medal from the 2009 World Championships in Berlin, Germany, as a member of the United States team.
Beard is content with reflecting on those accomplishments after the season. Right now she has to stay healthy and focus on conference title.
“We have some time off,” Beard said. I will be working on trying to run well and tweaking the little things. We all want to get better. There is a lot yet to do. We have so many important meets left.
“I’m excited because I never ran this fast with this group of people before. [The Penn Relays] were a good indication of the training and teamwork we have. Our training times are a good indication of what can happen ahead. And I don’t think we are peaking. Our coaches don’t believe in peaking. We’re trained to keep reaching high places. Texas Relays was a high place, and we want to build upon that.”