Jimmies' Stier trying to go out on top at national championships
Stier is hoping to be the second female Jimmie national champion in program history.
JAMESTOWN — For the first and last time in her career, Anni Stier will be heading to the NAIA Outdoor Championships. The University of Jamestown runner qualified for the 2023 outdoor championships with a time of 64.18 in the 400-meter hurdles.
“It was a really big goal just to make it to nationals,” Stier said. “That’s been my goal for all four years so I was really excited to qualify for nationals. My goal is to just run hard and end my career on a good note, hopefully, get a new personal best, just wanna run a good time and have fun and just enjoy the environment there.”
After graduating, Stier’s days are not only full of preparing for the national championships, they are also full of preparing her future kindergarten classroom at Louis L’Amour Elementary School.
“I’ve been doing different things to get my classroom ready while I’m still in Jamestown right now, subbing (substitute teaching) and yeah, doing practice, lifting and things like that,” Stier said.
Jimmies head coach Jarvis Jelen said he has not been spending a ton of time with the five Jimmies going to the national championships, including Stier. He said the athletes have been spending more time with their specific event coaches.
This season, Stier set a career-best in the 400-meter hurdles and had one win, a top finish in the 400-meter race at the Al Cassell Classic on April 28.
“I ran for a long time, four years at Jamestown really did fly by but I’ve had a lot of different people that I’ve gotten to learn from,” Stier said. “I would say I’ve grown a lot, I’ve had a lot of great coaches over my career and running with a lot of great other athletes at college has really pushed me.”
During her career at Rugby (North Dakota) High School, Stier competed in the 300-meter hurdles. She said the biggest difference between the 400-meter hurdles and the 300-meter hurdles is the toll the extra distance takes on your body.
Jelen said Stier’s success has come from her work ethic.
“She is very driven and competitive as much as anybody on the team,” Jelen said. “She’s worked hard and been really disciplined for her whole career. She’s a real competitor, she really is tough on herself, sometimes too tough but that’s our job as a coaching staff and a team to help her to sometimes see the positives and be able to learn from and move past races. Which, she does a good job of it, but she really wants to do well and that’s gotten her to where she’s at as well.”
Stier will be competing against 21 other runners from around the country in the event.
“I just want to get out hard at that race and focus on one hurdle at a time, that’s what I do when I’m running, attack and compete with the people in my heat,” Stier said.
Stier said her mindset before an event is to not get into her head and get too nervous.
During her career, Stier has been coached by three different head coaches, with the current one being Jelen.
“It definitely puts a different perspective on things, and ... learning to overcome a lot of different obstacles,” Stier said. “It’s not always easy to transition like that but I think it made our team mentally tough and it makes you a lot closer with your teammates for sure.”
Jelen said he expects Stier to put in a good effort at the national championships.
“Honestly, because she squeaked in with a small PR (personal record) and has been pretty consistent in her races leading up, she would most likely in order to make finals, she would probably need to have the best race she’s ever had,” Jelen said. “She’s definitely an underdog and doesn’t have pressure, there’s a lot of pressure there for her to go just challenge herself and she what she can do.”
Stier is one of two Jimmies women to make the national championships. Jordynn Toliver qualified in the javelin and the heptathlon.
“Jordynn is super fun to practice with, being the two girls that are going, we really bond over that,” Stier said. “We’ve gotten super close over our four years. So, yeah, I talk to Jordynn a lot, we really motivate each other, we love to practice together and push each other in practice. It’ll be fun to go together and learn from her and have fun.”