Copperas Cove track star inks to run for Division I Tarleton State University
By TJ MAXWELL
Timing is everything.
That goes both literally and figuratively for recent Copperas Cove graduate Anayah Copeland.
The track and field standout improved her times throughout her career and those efforts have recently been rewarded with her signing to run track for the Tarleton State TexAnns.
“I feel kind of nervous about it because I know there’s a lot of competition out there,” said Copeland. “At the same time, I’m extremely proud of myself for being able to get the opportunity to compete at the next level.”
The timing of her signing couldn’t have been any better as the school officially became the ninth member of the Western Athletic Conference in the NCAA Division I.
Tarleton State accepted an invitation to join the WAC in November of last year and that move was made official last Wednesday.
The Texan Riders were in the NCAA Division II Lone Star Conference for the last 27 years where they amassed 36 LSC championships, nine tournament championships and 14 NCAA regional championships in 14 NCAA sports.
Copeland got in some action this winter at the Texas Tech Under Armour HS Classic where she finished 26th out of 104 runners in the 400-meter dash with a time of 59.76 seconds as a runner for A Running Start Track Club. She also competed in the 200m dash where she finished 73rd out of 189 runners with a time of 26.67 seconds.
She also got some work in with the Copperas Cove Lady Dawgs Track and Field team where she helped the 4x200m relay team to a third-place finish and time of 1 minute 44.51 seconds at the annual Bulldawg Relays in early March before the COVID-19 pandemic washed away her season.
“It made a lot of things different,” she said. “I had a lot of plans for this upcoming track season. Not only was it my last one, but I planned on breaking the school record and going to state. I had a lot of plans that I never got the opportunity for. I actually missed one school record by .08 seconds and never got a chance to run that race again.
“It was hard because everything was so sudden. Everything was fine, we had our last track meet and we were supposed to go back after spring break, then we just never went back.”
Copeland had her choices of schools but decided on Tarleton based on their pre-med program and the overall environment.
“They have my major which is pre-medicine and the environment seemed like something that I would be okay in. The coaches were willing to give me a shot, which I really appreciated since I didn’t get a chance to compete this year and that complicated some things but, the fact they were still willing to give me a chance, means a lot.”
Tarleton knew what they were getting as well despite Copeland’s senior season being wiped away.
“They liked my character and my athletic profile,” said Copeland. “I do have athletic accomplishments they were drawn to. It’s not like they’re taking a risk with me. They know I can do great for their program.”
Copeland has been running since she was six years-old and has the hardware to back it up. Her time in the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU), Texas Amateur Athletic Federation (TAAF) and other organizations, paired with her time as a Copperas Cove Lady Dawg has prepared her to compete on the biggest stage of collegiate athletics – NCAA Division I.
“I think they’ve prepared me for everything,” said Copeland. “I’ve been running since I was six years old so I have consistently exposed to strong competitors. The fact that I’ve been doing it so long, has trained me because I know it’s a completely different environment then competing at high school and gives me a lot more experience with tougher competition.”
With so many years of competing and making memories, it took a bit for Copeland to settle on just one but breaking the minute mark in junior high was one of those moments.
“It was 7th grade going into 8th grade and I was still running over a minute in my 400 and my goal was to get under a minute. My first track meet of that season was at Shoemaker. I ran a time of 59.7 seconds and was dying because I just ran the 400 and was exhausted but then they told me my time and I just magically came back to life.”