Hard work pays off

SRU distance specialist Anna Igims discusses her path to PSAC track and cross-country stardom

Published by Joseph V. Gaita, Date: April 4, 2024

No one knows what the future holds when they are a middle school student. The same held true for current Slippery Rock star Anna Igims. 

A multi-sport athlete during a time where sport specialization at a young age is becoming increasingly popular, Igims was eyeing a future in soccer. 

Thankfully, after a coach saw her potential as a runner, that did not stop her from branching out. 

“I started running when, in my freshman year of high school, I got the middle school 800-meter record,” Igims said. “The coach was like ‘you should come be on this team’ and I was like ‘alright but I’m mainly focusing on soccer.’” 

After realizing her own potential, she changed her mind. 

“By senior year I made the decision that I liked cross country and track and field more, so I chose to do that in college,” Igims said. 

Her senior season in high school rewarded her decision and helped make the picture a little clearer. 

Among her high school accolades was the Northern Area Athletic Directors Association Female Athlete of the Year distinction she earned as a senior. The future Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) champion was also a member of the Avonworth PIAA Class-AAA State Champion track and field team. 

In cross country, she earned Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association (PIAA) District Seven All-American honors, further foreshadowing her future career as a distance specialist. This was on top of graduating with all honors. 

The Slippery Rock track and field program is surely happy everything came into focus the way it did. Since joining The Rock, she’s done nothing short of amassing one of the most impressive resumes of any Rock athlete across all sports over the past few years. 

Igims is thankful for the opportunity she’s been given at The Rock, citing the family culture she immediately noticed on campus. 

“It was mainly the team atmosphere they had when I came here. I really felt like the girls made me feel included,” Igims said. “It really felt like a whole Rock family.” 

While her potential was quickly realized, COVID-19 was one of the only factors able to stunt her pace. And yet, it still did not stop her from showing impressive flashes. 

As a freshman on the cross-country squad, she achieved 16th at the Lock Haven University hosted PSAC Championships in 2020. After hardly getting settled into college, Igims had already earned a second-team All-PSAC denotation from her performance at the 5,000-meter course. 

At the 2021 outdoor events, Igims competed in seven meets in the 1,500 meters and 800 meter events.

Just in her sophomore year, she qualified for the PSAC Championship in the 1,500 meters competition. At the Mountain Cat Last Chance Meet she clocked in a season-best time of 4:57.39 and she ended up winning the 1500 meter event. 

She also achieved wins at the Penn State Behrend Invitational and the SRU Invitational.  

During the Bill Lennox Invitational, she placed second in the 1500-meter competition.  

Her top 800-meter time was 2:32.31 at the Dave Labor Invitational that season.  

At the cross-country events that same year she was one of The Rock’s top five finishers at all six meets that took place.  At the beginning of the season, she ran the Marty Uher Invitational by placing second with a time of 19:12.9.   

Although Igims missed out on earning all-region honors in her second year, she could see the vision from the coaching staff.

“The coaching staff here has had a tremendous impact on not only just me but the team as well,” Igims said.

Fast forward to the 2022 indoor events, she completed the mile at five meets. She won the mile at the Edinboro Invite with a time of 5:40.31. 

The White and Green’s budding star was a member of The Rock’s distance medley relay team at the PSAC Championships. Igims assisted her group to an eighth-place finish. 

For the majority of the 2022 outdoor events, she was in the 1500 meters. Igims opened that year by placing 22nd at the Carnegie Mellon Invitational. She qualified for the PSAC championships with a 5:01.72 time.

At the Bison Classic, she had her top 2500-meter run with a time of 4:54.93.

In the 2022 cross-country events, Igims competed at six meets. She earned all-region honors and Second Team All-PSAC honors. With a time of 22:24.3 Igims achieved 10th place at the NCAA Atlantic Region Championships. 

She registered top-10 at three different events, the Bill Lennox Invitational, Carnegie Mellon Invitational and the Doug Watts Open. That same season she was The Rock’s second finisher in four races as a PSAC Scholar-Athlete.  

The four-time All-PSAC Honoree in track and field earned All-PSAC honors in the 3,000-meters after placing second. She achieved this with a season-best time at 10:12.42. 

Igims is also a U.S Track & Field and Cross-Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) all-region performer in the 3,000 meters. 

The Rock’s athlete earned points for Slippery Rock University at the PSAC Championships. This was achieved in the 5,000 meters with a season-best time of 18:04.61.  

Igims attributed the coaches’ hard work over long work days as a reason the squad is consistently competing at the highest level they can be.

“Them spending countless hours at the fieldhouse, early mornings and late nights, makes the team the best it can be,” Igims said.

The distance coaches have had a particularly big impact on her.

“I’d have to say that [coach Bobby Over] has been my biggest influence up here. Him and shoutout to my other distance coach, Andrew Maxwell,” Igims said.

Igims opened the 2023 indoor season by winning the 5,000-meter competition at the Youngstown State University (YSU) Icebreaker after a time of 18:08.13. That same season she took second place at the YSU Mid-Major Invitational.  

In the 2023 outdoor season, Igims competed at nine meets. The three-time USTFCCCA All-Region honoree qualified for the NCAA Championships, where she placed 15th with a time of 11:03.70.  

The women’s track and field team also gets a lot of praise from Igims. It takes a complete unit to consistently put up numbers at conference meets.

“We all push ourselves and each other to be the best we can be and perform at high levels together,” Igims said. 

During the Mountaineer Twilight, she won by clocking in a time of 4:37.22. 

Igims found her love for the track and will look to help other teenagers find their love for athletics, as she is currently pursuing a health and physical education degree. 

The grind does not stop for the hardworking student.  

“Being a distance runner is super taxing on your body so when I was student teaching and running after every day, I was completely tired by the end of the day. It really goes to show that when you work hard you are rewarded with things like this,” Igims said.  

Igims own success, and her high praise of the coaching staff, were both confirmed yet again recently when they both won major PSAC awards. Igims earned this year’s PSAC Women’s Indoor Track Athlete of the Year award and the coaching staff was denoted Women’s Indoor Coaching Staff of the Year.

“It really goes to show that hard work pays off,” Igims said.  

Even with all the hard work, the track and field squad still makes sure to make room for fun. 

“My favorite memory would be coach Robert Over and Andrew Maxwell’s one-mile race after the outdoor PSAC championships,” Igims said. “They raced in a mile, and it was really entertaining to see.” 


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