Track is more than just a sport to the athletes on the APU track and field team. And that was apparent as fans watched them win indoor nationals this year by .5 points.
Two athletes in particular have developed a friendship that goes past the regular teammate friendship. Sophomore business major and art minor Megan VanWinkle and junior applied exercise science major Breanna Leslie’s friendship grows on the track as well as off.
Both VanWinkle and Leslie compete in the multi’s which include seven different events: 200, long jump, high jump, shot put, javelin, 800 and hurdles. This competition lasts two days, splitting up the events with four on one day and three on the next.
Besides training for the multi’s, VanWinkle competes in the open long jump, while Leslie competes in the open hurdles.
Growing up with brothers, VanWinkle always used to race them and then in sixth grade decided to join the track team at her school. Throughout time, her love for track grew.
Originally from Indiana, VanWinkle was determined to go to college in California. She wanted to go to a Christian school and that also was with the NAIA. Having no idea what APU’s track record was and not knowing their legacy, she applied anyway.
“It was the only school I applied to, and I never even saw it,” VanWinkle said. “After I was accepted, I came up to visit, and thank goodness I loved it. So then I got involved in track.”
As for Leslie, the involvement of track came differently in her life growing up. Trying to stay out of trouble in high school, Leslie’s parents had her join the high school track team sophomore year. The coach threw Leslie right into training for hurdles.
As the years of being an athlete progressed, the support stayed the same for both of these women athletes as they decided on coming to APU.
Leslie’s biggest support is her parents as their encouragement and motivation only grew with every track meet and competition that took place. VanWinkle’s biggest support growing up was a coach who pushed her and never gave up on her.
“I would do double track practices with him and he helped me start loving track and then helped me pick out colleges,” VanWinkle said.
While APU was always a good option, Leslie was four days away for attending Biola. Leslie switched because of complications with scholarship money. Coming to APU not knowing anything or anyone was a fast change.
“I threw out all my Biola stuff and switched into APU gear. It was such a God thing,” Leslie said.
While attending APU, VanWinkle and Leslie both broke university records. Both athletes feel that is was this year that they both gave it everything they had in both workouts and practices.
From the day VanWinkle stepped onto the track and met Leslie, their common interest, personalities and drive made them almost instant friends.
“She’s not just my training partner and best friend, she’s honestly one of my biggest supporters now in track because she’s always pushing me and is genuinely happy for me,” VanWinkle said.
Competing and training together for the same events may seem like a problem waiting to arise, but that has never been an issue for these two.
“We compete against each other, but it’s never awkward or negative,” Leslie said. “We always feed off each others energy.”
When thinking about the future as an athlete, both VanWinkle and Leslie have been given positive encouragement from university coaches as well as Olympic athlete Bryan Clay.
There have been athletes who went through APU and competed beyond college, such as Bryan Clay, which gives both of these women athletes huge motivation to continue their track career.
“It makes me think, if we continue doing this well this year and still keep progressing, where are we gonna be in 2016?” Leslie said.