Tyjuana Eason: Sprinting ahead

Tyjuana+Eason%2C+a+sophomore+majoring+in+psychology%2C+poses+with+her+medals+won+at+the+MVC+Indoor+T%26F+Championships+at+Cedar+Falls+Iowa.+Where+she+was+the+top-point+earner+for+the+Saluki+women.
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Tyjuana Eason: Sprinting ahead

Tyjuana Eason, a sophomore majoring in psychology, poses with her medals won at the MVC Indoor T&F Championships at Cedar Falls Iowa. Where she was the top-point earner for the Saluki women.

Tyjuana Eason, a sophomore majoring in psychology, poses with her medals won at the MVC Indoor T&F Championships at Cedar Falls Iowa. Where she was the top-point earner for the Saluki women.

Isabel Miller | @isabelmillermedia

Tyjuana Eason, a sophomore majoring in psychology, poses with her medals won at the MVC Indoor T&F Championships at Cedar Falls Iowa. Where she was the top-point earner for the Saluki women.

Isabel Miller | @isabelmillermedia

Isabel Miller | @isabelmillermedia

Tyjuana Eason, a sophomore majoring in psychology, poses with her medals won at the MVC Indoor T&F Championships at Cedar Falls Iowa. Where she was the top-point earner for the Saluki women.

By Tamar Mosby, Sports Reporter

Saluki Track and Field has continued to uphold its reputation of producing some of the best athletes in the conference and country. The team holds top marks in the MVC, to go along with school records and national rankings within this year’s program.

Veteran sprinter Tyjuana Eason is just one of SIU’s many track stars, but has certainly been making her mark this season.

This indoor season, the senior has been competing in the 60 meter dash, 200 meter dash, and 1600 meter relay. When the outdoor season rolls around in March, Eason is set to compete in the 100 meter dash in place of the 60 and the 400 meter relay.

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While being a short sprinter for Southern Illinois, Eason has been an MVC Champion four times, earned All-MVC honors on six different occasions and been named MVC Women’s Track Athlete of the Week three times.

Despite being a highly decorated collegiate athlete, the sprinter has never been able to snag an individual MVC championship as the ones she has earned have been in relay races.

All is set to change this year as Eason enters the MVC Indoor championships with the top mark in both the 60 meter dash and 200 meter dash.

“It feels great to come in with the top mark, especially because I worked so hard to get to where I wanted to be,” Eason said. “My goals for indoor are to win conference and cut my time down in both the 60 and the 200.”

For the past two seasons, Eason has also qualified for the NCAA West Regional meet in at least two or more events.

Last season, the now senior set the school record in the 200 meter dash running a time of 24.24 seconds, but broke the record once again this year at the Samford Invite with the new record being 24.14 seconds.

“It sounds crazy, but I didn’t even know that I broke the record until someone mentioned it to me,” Eason said. “It feels good to have been able to break it and be apart of that history.”

Amongst her teammates and her coaches Eason is seen as a positive and  hardworking leader.

“She is a leader and a goal setter,” said teammate and fellow junior sprinter Genesis Ewell. “She is always positive and had a phenomenal work ethic. She works out with the guys and keeps up with them to make herself better.”

Eason has been successful in every single year of her collegiate career, but this season she has improved at a rather rapid pace achieving many of her goals early on.

“I think this year my motivation has increased,” Eason said. “This mainly has to with the new coaching staff. They are more focused on the team as a whole and we’ve been doing speed work early on which is helping a lot.”

Ewell has also seen a change for the better in her teammate since the arrival of the new coaching staff in Carbondale.

“I think the change in the coaching staff has really brought out the best in her,” Ewell said. “They work with her, care about her goals, and cater to her needs. They believe in her and in return, she gives them school records and first place finishes.”

New sprints coach, Richard Jones is known for his success in coaching world class sprinters as his athletes at Ohio State won 15 Big Ten titles and earned 46 All-Big 10 accolades. 42 of Jones’s athletes also were qualifiers for national meets.

When Jones arrived in Carbondale Eason immediately stuck out to him and he admired her work ethic.

“She has a very strong competitive nature and she is not afraid of hard work,” Jones said. “When it’s time to do the work she does it without complaining because she wants to get better.”

While only having known the senior for a short period of time, Coach Jones says he can already conclude that the senior will have no trouble being successful this year and later on in life.

“She’s very driven and takes her craft very seriously,” Jones said. “She handles her business and I think that’s going to lead to a lot of success for her in track and field and beyond.”

While she enjoys winning races, the sprinters admitted her favorite part of being on the SIU track and field team is her teammates.

“My favorite part of being on the track team would have to be my teammates,” Eason said. “They keep me well rounded and focused. On my down days, they keep me motivated.”

According to her fellow teammates, Eason not only receives support from them, she’s the one to give it out.

“Ty lifts me up when I’m not feeling great about practices,” Ewell said. “She keeps me honest and constantly reminds me that I have to stay positive and trust the process. She’s an awesome training partner because she reminds me to have a championship mentally and that pumps me up.”

Eason’s support of her teammates has become noticeable even to her coaches and they see her as one of the leaders on the team.

“She adds senior leadership to the program,” Jones said “We’ve come an understanding in the quick amount of time. All of the athletes respect her opinion and she’s always willing to be a liaison for me when I need the athletes to focus.”

Before attending SIU the sprinter competed at Kankakee High School in her home town of Kankakee, Illinois.

While attending her high school, Eason competed in track and field and volleyball.

She first started running track in grade seven and has loved the sport ever since.

“I first started running in the seventh grade,” Eason said. “My physical education teacher pushed me towards it. I wasn’t too big on track at first, but once I started winning and getting better I became more interested.”

After graduating from SIU with a major in psychology and a minor in criminology, the sprinter plans on pursuing a professional track career. If she is not able to go pro, she would like to attend grad school to become a psychologist.

“If I don’t become a professional, I plan on attending grad school after I graduate,” Eason said. “I’m currently deciding between the clinical psychology program and the counseling psychology program. Either way, I just want to help others and the community in some way.”

You can catch Eason and the Salukis this weekend in Cedar Rapids Iowa as they compete in the MVC Indoor Championships.

Sports reporter Tamar Mosby can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter at @mosbytamar.

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