Sophomore breaks record in women’s track and field 100-meter

Philip Zoppi – Special to the Southern News 

One hundred meters in 11.61 seconds. That’s all it took for sophomore, Shatajah Wattely, of the Southern Connecticut State University women’s track and field team, to etch her name into Southern’s all-time record book in the 100-meter.

The track and field star is doing a lot more than just breaking records. Just last week Wattely was named the Northeast-10 Conference Women’s Track Co-Athlete of the Week. Wattely said that her performance during the week is something she’ll never forget.

“It’s a blessing,” she said. “I’m a very humble person and when you see that, it just gives me an extra motivational boost. It was just a very blessing experience.”

Wattely had two impressive finishes during the week. Her time in the 200-meter of 24.00 seconds at the Boston University Terrier Invitational was the second best in Division II this year. On top of that she finished 13th in the 400-meter with a time of 56.52 seconds.

Wattely is building on a memorable rookie year. In her freshman year, she was an All-America selection, All-New England selection, and All-Region selection in the 200-meter.

These awards in the 200-meter were definitely warranted as Wattely broke Southern’s all time record in the 200 meter with a time of 23.87 during her freshman year. Once again, putting her name into Southern’s record book. Doing something like that twice in a freshman year is something one doesn’t see very often.

Wattely’s time of 23.87 this year was just .14 milliseconds away from beating the record she set for Southern during her freshman year.

Wattely’s coach, Joseph Van Gilder, said that he is very impressed not only with how Wattely is performing as an athlete but how she’s taken the next step to help other’s on the team perform.

“She really leads by example. Last year, she was just trying to get her feet back into the game. I believe this year she’s taking that leadership role,” said Van Gilder. “During practice if we have a tempo workout she’ll tell another girl to lead and give other girls opportunities to lead the rep.”

It’s not just Van Gilder who feels like Wattely is taking on a bigger leadership role. Wattely said that she can feel it herself and in her teammates.

“It’s good to know that people are looking up to me,” she said. “I feel like we all have a leadership role on this team. We all step in where it’s needed.”

Wattely was very fast not to take too much credit for how she’s evolved as a leader. She puts her teammates first, just like a leader should.

The team is gearing up for the New England Championships in late February where Wattely broke both her Southern records last year. Van Gilder said that he is expecting a lot out of Wattely and she’s primed and ready to deliver.

“I expect her to do better. My main goal is for her to finish top three in the nation in all her events,” he said. “Anything is possible. We just have to stay healthy. We try not to worry about times too much. As long as she’s finishing top three in her events that means she’s running fast.”

Wattely’s support doesn’t just come from her coaches either. Her strongest support

may be from her friends; as they were the first ones to make it aware to her that she was named the Northeast-10 Conference Women’s Track Co-Athlete last week.

“I didn’t even know until everyone was congratulating me on my Facebook and Instagram,” said Wattely.

She hopes that her friends and family have even more to congratulate her on as she looks to finish the season strong.


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