Estacada High graduate Genna Settle is looking for big things in her final season racing for the Portland State track and field team this spring.
"I remember when I was a freshman and thinking I had a long four years ahead of me, and now my last season is here," Settle says. "It's happened super fast, and I want to make the best of it."
She is coming off a stellar indoor campaign in which she swept the 60- and 200-meter Big Sky sprint titles, setting a school and conference record in the longer race.
"It's a good set up for the outdoor season," Settle says, adding that "my goal is always to win, and
I want to break school records."
The 60-meter dash is the shortest race in the sport — like melting butter in a microwave, it's over in a flash.
"It's so short that you could have a great run, but if your blocks slip or one little thing is off it's going to cost you — it's over in the blink of an eye," Settle says. "Moving to the 100 in outdoor, it's still quick, but it gives you time to make up for mistakes."
She is the reigning Big Sky champ in the 100 (11.46) and the school-record holder in the outdoor 200 (23.42). In a sport where athletes chase improvements measured in the snap of a finger, she is aiming to be a quarter-second quicker in each race, with the ultimate goal to gain a spot in the NCAA championships.
"It's a mix of everything -- how you come out of the blocks, your hand motion, how you finish," Settle says. "Hundredths of a second are so small, but that's a lot of time for a sprinter. It takes a lot of practice to get it all down."
Settle competed in the West regional in both sprints last season — only the fifth Viking to accomplish that feat.
"I would love to make nationals, but I realize that is going to be very difficult," she says. "It's definitely there, I just have to put the pieces together."
The top 12 times at regionals advance to the NCAA Division I meet.
Settle saw a coaching transition halfway through her Viking career, with Brent Ericksen taking the helm in 2015. She credits him with longer workouts that have helped her finish races strong.
"Every coach has his own style, but I've done well under both — I'm grateful to Coach Ericksen for helping me with my endurance," she says. "I had never run anything over a 250 before, but the longer splits have really helped my 200 time come down."
She broke the 24-second barrier for the first time last season on her way to the school 200 record. The greater endurance also has landed her on the team's long relay, which requires her to sprint a full lap of the track. Her typical load on race day includes the 100 and 200 and both relays.
"I remember dying my last 50 my freshman year, but now I feel a lot stronger in that phase of the race," she says.
The outdoor season begins this weekend at the Trojan Invitational, racing in the historic Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, site of the 1984 Olympics. She will make several return trips to California over the course of the season and is hopeful of a couple plane rides to Austin, Texas — site of this year's West regional, May 25-27. Traveling the country has been one of the highlights of her college career.
"I've been all over, from Boston and New York to California and Texas — I've really enjoyed all of the warm places," Settle says with a laugh after coming from a rainy day workout at the Lincoln High track.
Settle is studying health sciences and looking toward a future in the dental industry.
Portland State makes stops at area meets at Willamette and Western Oregon, leading up to the High Performance meet hosted by Oregon State on Apgil 28-29.