As the NCAA Indoor Track & Field Championships draw near, we’ll take a look at the path that each of Clemson’s six individual qualifiers took to get to the meet in Albuquerque, N.M.
Rebekah Smith’s career as a Clemson Tiger has been one full of success, as the senior from Irmo, S.C. is one of the most decorated student-athletes to dawn the orange and regalia in recent years. Throughout the 2019-20 indoor campaign, just as in much of her career, Smith has been one of the most consistent and highest achieving Tigers on the track.
The indoor season began in December for Smith, as she competed in the women’s 300 meters at the Clemson Opener, registering a time of 39.23. For the short sprinter, the event would prove to be a good test of the fitness which she accumulated during the fall months of base training.
Following a five-week break from competition due to the winter holiday, Smith returned to the track at the Clemson Indoor Track & Field Complex by competing in a range of events, making her debut in the 60 meter dash by running 7.44 and 7.39 seconds in the preliminary and final, respectively. The 300 meters would round out Smith’s effort on the day as she finished within the top-10 amongst a high-quality field of competitors.
Smith captured victory for the first time this season at the Clemson Invitational, winning the women’s 60 meters with a mark of 7.33 seconds. The following day, competing in the 200 meters, Smith concluded an excellent weekend with a top-3 finish in the event. Over the next two meets, Smith would go on to race five times, four of which were in the 60 meters, and once in the 200 meters, garnering top-10 finishes in the 60 meters each time and sprinting to a season’s best mark of 23.64 in the 200 meters.
At the time, the series of high-class performances had left Smith on the outside looking in when it came to qualification for the National Championships. After discussions were had amongst the members of the coaching staff, it was decided that Smith would take one last attempt at an elite mark before the ACC Championships were slated to begin.
A trip to Baton Rouge, La. would ensue, as Smith competed in the women’s 60 meters at the LSU Twilight and performed in a historic way. Smith started off the competition by running 7.28 seconds to finish fourth overall in the prelims of the event, just one hundredth of a second off of her personal best entering the day. In the finals, Smith loaded into the blocks with great confidence after her performance and was poised to make a breakthrough. Exactly 7.23 seconds after the gun was fired, Smith found just what she had been looking for, earning a sizable personal best and becoming the No. 3 performer in Clemson history as a result of her performance. Smith would garner the ACC’s Women’s Track Performer of the Week honors as a result of her performance at the LSU Twilight.
Smith made the seamless transition into focusing her efforts on the ACC Indoor Track & Field Championships, as a repeat performance of 7.23 seconds in the prelims of the women’s 60 meter dash would see her advance to the finals in the second-overall position and would later be the lone Tiger to advance to the finals of the women’s 200 meters following her time of 23.71 seconds.
Smith’s advancement to the final in multiple events made her the lone Clemson competitor to achieve the feat at the ACC Indoor Championship this year. When all was finished at the Championships, Smith had finished third overall in the finals of the women’s 60 meter dash and fourth overall in the finals of the women’s 200 meters.
Now, with her focus solely set on competing on the NCAA’s biggest stage, Smith will look to call upon the consistency and experience she has gathered throughout a decorated career in an effort to showcase her best performance yet.