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Chari Hawkins raises the bar for Aggies

By Brad Ferguson
On April 3, 2014

The 2013-14 Utah State track and field team has posted some of the most impressive numbers in its indoor history. The team’s success has led to multiple new school records, but more impressively, nearly all of those record-setting times and jumps came from a single athlete.

Her name is Chari Hawkins, a junior, who has broken previous school and meet records this year. Hawkins was named the 2014 Mountain West Indoor Track and Field Athlete of the Year, receiving the majority of votes from the conference’s coaches.

To add more to her resume, Hawkins was also named the Mountain West Outstanding Performer at the Mountain West Indoor Championships after a pentathlon victory and breaking the school and meet record with 4,173 points.

During the NCAA Indoor Championships in March, Hawkins destroyed the school record in the 60 meter hurdles by seven hundredths of a second, running in a time of 8.33.

More school records fell Feb. 1 at the New Mexico Team Invitational, where Hawkins leapt more than 6 feet in the high jump.

“I love how track has made me as a person,” Hawkins said. “It’s given me a lot of nerves that I never wanted to have, but it’s also made me become stronger in that way.”

Hawkins has taken her success in stride and said medals and trophies can’t make a person who they are.

“When it comes to track, I am most proud of who it has made me become, because I feel that without track, I wouldn’t have been as good of a person as I am,” Hawkins said.

Entering the 2013-14 season, Hawkins had dreams of simply doing her best and was hopeful to make nationals. Her performance and attitude brought her much further.

“I wasn’t expecting to win conference at all. I was just going to see if I could make it to nationals. That was really my only goal,” Hawkins said. “This last championship showed everyone that our team belongs in the Mountain West.”

Hawkins said the most important thing she learned from competition is composure.

“Because I don’t hide my emotions very well, there’s just too many things that you have to do,” she said. “You can’t afford to have a mental breakdown.”

Hawkins is just one of head coach Greg Gensel’s 35 All-Americans he has coached during his 32-year tenure at USU.

“Coach Gensel is all about the individual,” Hawkins said. “If you need to be left alone, he’ll leave you alone. If you need to be comforted, he’ll comfort you. If you need breakfast to be at this time, he’ll make breakfast for you at that time.”

Hawkins said teammates have also played a pivotal role in her career.

“Track is an individual sport, but at the same time, if you have the right team, it can become a team sport. Your team can become one of the most important things you can have at your side.” Hawkins said. “Even though you’re the only one on the blocks, the people cheering for you can be the difference between you getting your PR and getting your worst time ever.”

Hawkins, along with the rest of the USU track and field team, have started outdoor events and are looking forward to the NCAA Outdoor Championships in June.

-- brad.ferguson76@gmail.com
Twitter: @bradferg47

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