Athlete of the Week: Anne Diaz-Arrastia

Michael Rosengart | Sports Reporter

Freshman Anne Diaz-Arrastia from Dallas started her college career off with a bang at the Illinois Wesleyan University Triangular meet, where she placed third in the long jump and won the triple jump. This past weekend at the Illinois College Snowbird Open, she earned 13 points in helping the women’s indoor track and field team to a second-place finish, earning her Student Life’s Athlete of the Week award.

Student Life: How different have you found high school track and field to be from college track and field?

Anne Diaz-Arrastia: For basketball and baseball and sports like that, there’s definitely a more intense level of competition, but for track and field, I really haven’t seen that much of a difference. The only difference I’ve seen is in practice. Workouts are a little more intense, and coaches leave it up to the athletes to get stuff done.

SL: With all that intensity, were you nervous for your first event?

AD: The first meet we had I was definitely nervous, but all my teammates, the seniors, juniors and sophomores, were like ‘Anne, you really have nothing to worry about. It’s just like everything you prepare for in practice.’

SL: With your early success, what are your goals going forward, and how have they changed since the season began?

AD: My goal right now is to do well at conference, and to do that I just need to continue to go into each meet looking to do my best…Every athlete is definitely going for the [NCAA] indoor and outdoor championships as well, but those [goals] really haven’t changed in the past couple of weeks. It’s just kind of my expectations to attaining those goals have changed, because now I see what the playing field is like.

SL: How did you get into track and field in the first place?

AD: There was this weird one meet thing in third grade that my PE teacher was like, ‘Anne, I think you should try it,’ so I ran the 75-meter, which isn’t even a real event at all, the 100-meter and the long jump. Then in fourth grade, I tried playing soccer and there was a coach from a local club soccer team and he came up to me and said, ‘You look like a really good athlete, I would like to recruit you for our team.’ I looked at him and I was like, ‘I’m sorry sir, I can’t join your club soccer team. Next year, I’ll be able to run track in school and I have to do that. I’m much better at that.’ So, that’s how I got started and I’ve been running ever since fifth grade…through my school and through a summer program.

SL: How do you feel about the way the team looks so far?

AD: Our guys’ team is actually, really strong this year. We’ve already had several lifetime bests like [sophomore] Dan Davis and [senior] Chris Malaya. The girls’ team is actually really small this year. We graduated 22 seniors, so we’re definitely suffering from that this year. But I think, we’re still really strong, there’s a ton of talent in what’s still left, and we have a lot of new blood to look forward to…There’s definitely more pressure, because each individual girl carries more weight from what was lost, but by no means is it overwhelming, because we’re more than capable.

SL: NBC, in a desperate attempt to settle the “Tonight Show” scandal, has a jump-off between Conan and Leno. Who wins?

AD: I think definitely Leno. He’s got more guts, and that’s what it really takes in the long jump.