by: CONTRIBUTED PHOTO: LARRY LAWSON - Estacada High graduate Genna Settle was part of a school-record breaking 400-meter relay team during her rookie season at Portland State. Genna Settle was often the fastest runner on the track during her four years at Estacada High School and in her rookie season at Portland State University she only got faster.

Settle turned in a stellar opening season with the Vikings, helping Portland State to a fourth-place finish at the Big Sky Championships and setting personal best across the board in her track events (see sidebar).

“A lot of people say the first year is an adjustment year, so that has me really looking forward to next season,” Settle said.

““All schools have their niche and for us it’s athletes with speed and power — she could be the fastest short sprinter ever to go to PSU,” Vikings coach Ronnye Harrison said. “Her mechanics are strong, she’s naturally gifted and short-tempered — I’ve never seen a mild-mannered sprinter. She’s passionate and really cares about every aspect of her racing.”

Settle already ranks in the top 10 all-time at PSU in three events. She finished second in the 100-and 200-meter races at the Big Sky meet, but her biggest highlight came in the 400 relay, which set a school record with a time of 45.11 seconds. She ran the second leg of the relay — a new experience after being the anchor for most of her high school career.

“On the anchor everyone comes in together, you grab and baton and just go for the finish line,” Settle said. “On the second leg, everyone is still staggered, so now I’m out there trying to catch people and I have to get the handoff without a lot of practice time.”

She also qualified for the West Regionals in the 100 and the relay, sending her on a trip across the country to Arkansas for her season finale.

“It was a great experience to go down there and get used to that scale of a meet,” Settle said. “Everybody is fast — there’s no room for mistakes.”

The team also took trips to Texas, California and New Mexico and landed in New York for an elite indoor meet.

Settle’s biggest adjustment came in running on a banked track during the indoor season. The team arrived a couple days early for the University of Washington Indoor Preview, giving her time for some trials runs on the tilted turns — much like a NASCAR track.

“I had never stepped onto an indoor track until then and it was difficult to get used to,” Settle said. “Finally, my coach told me to stop running scared, and I just went for it.”

“You really have to throw yourself into it, run with power and keep your balance or you’ll fall flat on your face,” Harrison said.

She also had to adjust to the shorter 60-meter distance in the indoor sprints — a spot in the 100 where she usually finds herself passing up her competitors with a big finish.

“The 60 is all about acceleration and getting out of the blocks,” Settle said. “I would hit the finish line and feel like I should still be racing.”

She is studying Social Work and Health Sciences and was an Academic All-Big Sky performer as a freshman.

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