Daily Egyptian

Usery hopes to elevate athletes games to another level

By Ted Ward, @TedWard_15

After taking over as SIU’s track and field coach, Kathleen Raske added an impressive Southeastern Conference athlete as an assistant coach for this year’s team in September.

Former University of Florida graduate assistant Alishea Usery is one of two of the team’s five coaches on the roster. She will focus on sprinters and hurdlers.

The St. Louis native said her experience at Florida will translate well with SIU’s teams. 

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“It’s definitely broadened my horizons because now I get to work with my own athletes,” she said. “Coach Raske and I believe in the same principles of building a team environment and I myself stress that our athletes bring their best effort all the time.”

Junior sprinter Nikolai Gall said the transition from former sprints and hurdles coach Anthony Acklin  — who went with former Saluki head coach Connie Price-Smith to University of Mississippi for the same coaching position — to Usery has been smooth. And even though this is his third coach in three years at SIU, it doesn’t change his mindset.

“Coach U is more vocal and very positive and encouraging and wants the best for her athletes,” he said. “Acklin was the same way, but he would give you a look and you knew you had to go and he pushed you to be your best.”

She said the temperature change has been her most difficult transition.

“The weather is definitely colder,” she said. “It’s something that I’ve had to get used to, because I’m accustomed to the warmer climate of Florida … but I’m also closer to home, which is a plus because it allows me to be around my family.”

As an athlete, Usery was named to the SEC All-Freshmen first-team in 2009 for both indoor and outdoor. She also qualified for both NCAA Track and Field Championships in the same year for the 200-meter and 60-meter dash. She is currently third all-time at Florida for the 60-meter dash with a time of 7.29.

Usery finished first in 15 of 16 events at the state championships with McCluer South-Berkeley High School, and currently holds the Missouri Class 3A state record for the 200-meter and 400-meter dash.

Coach U, as she’s known by the team, is the only Missouri runner to be named the Gatorade Girls Track and Field Athlete of the Year three straight years. Former Olympic Gold Medalist Marion Jones is the only other athlete to win three straight years.

Ted Ward can be reached at [email protected] or 534-3304

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