Senior Emily Loogman is a small-town girl, a nursing major and the reigning PacWest Heptathlon champion—which means she’s better at most events than anyone else in the conference.
This season, she is the top-ranked 400-meter hurdler in the conference and hopes to defend her heptathlon title (she is not yet ranked in the heptathalon because she hasn’t competed).
She hails from Etna, California, population: 781. The Point caught up with Loogman to discuss life in college and her aspirations for the upcoming track season.
The Point: How long have you been running track?
Loogman: I started in seventh grade, on the junior high track team.
What was it like playing sports in a small town?
I think my athleticism came from growing up in a town so small. Etna is in the mountains so I was always being active because that’s what you do when you live there. Sports were not competitive at all, so I had to really push myself.
I didn’t have anyone else to compare myself to; I had to imagine what the competition was doing. Our high school track had like, three broken hurdles, so I would drive to the community college once a week to practice there. But my parents would always tell me that growing up in a small town doesn’t mean you have limits.
Did you play a lot of other sports in high school?
I played volleyball and basketball. Track was my least favorite, but I liked how I could rely on myself. When you go to such a small school, there’s always a limit to how far you can go, but with track it’s just you and your times. Track was sort of my way to get noticed by college coaches.
What brought you to PLNU?
I did a college search engine and typed in what I wanted in a school: a small private school by the beach, with a nursing program and a track team that I could run for. PLNU was the only one that came up.
Was it difficult to transition from a small town in Northern California to a huge city in Southern California?
It was hard. I didn’t really like it here freshman year. I got really homesick and it was hard to adjust. Now I see it as a second home, but it was a long process.
Describe your progression as a track athlete from freshman year to senior year.
Freshman year I worked really hard before I got here because I pictured it being super intense. I started way too strong and I got burnt out by the time the season rolled around. I was really over it because I got a hard time from some of the older girls for trying so hard.
The next year I timed my training better but I still had a stress fracture. It was hard finding a balance between working too hard and not working hard enough. Junior year I finally saw some results, but it wasn’t how I expected.
I didn’t think I would even compete in the heptathlon because I hadn’t practiced for it, so going in with no pressure really worked for me. But winning [conference] was exciting!
What are your plans for the remainder of your senior year?
This year I want to give it up to God. I’m going to try my hardest, but I’m going to focus on doing my best instead of just beating everybody.
What are your plans for next year?
I’m applying to MBA programs because I want to try something new and keep my options open. I’ll have cross-country eligibility, so I would love to run cross-country in the fall and then assistant coach for track in the spring. I’m excited about that possibility because I want to help the girls get better.
Any closing remarks?
I want to say thanks to all the coaching staff who have helped me mature as a person and an athlete.
Loogman will compete again on Saturday, April 4 at the Pomona Pitzer Invitational.