By Carey Phillips
Smoky Mountain senior Lydia Norman has signed with Montreat College for indoor and outdoor track and field.
Norman expects to compete in the long jump and triple jump.
She also considered Gardner-Webb and Lees-McRae before deciding on Montreat, where she plans to major in natural resource management.
“I really like the Christian atmosphere,” she said. “They have a really good coach, and I like their overall program.”
She said she is looking forward to working with Coach Jacob Simms and Britten Olinger, who will be her jump coach.
Norman really didn’t start competing in track and field until she was a sophomore.
“I started my freshmen year, but due to COVID I didn’t really get a season so my first time really for track was my sophomore year,” she said. “When I started track I wanted to be a sprinter, but Coach Libby McRae wanted me to try jumping, and I just took off from there.”
Last yer as a junior Norman said she began to think about participating in track and field in college.
“It was unbelievable,” Norman said of the day she signed with Montreat. “I never thought this would be happening.”
Norman, who also ran cross country in high school, has met the regional qualifying mark for the long jump.
She also competed in the regionals last year but hopes to take another step this season.
“I’m excited to compete for state this year,” Norman said.
Norman is excited about the opportunity to compete in college.
“I’m a little bit nervous, but I think it will be good,” she said. “I’ve never really had a jump coach before. I feel I can improve and do a lot better.”
Her Smoky Mountain coaches spoke highly of Norman.
“She is really dedicated and hard working and takes her events very seriously,” Coach Todd Davidson said. “She does extra work to learn small details. It’s really exciting to see people go to college and grow and improve in the future.”
“Lydia has been one of the most dedicated athletes I’ve had the pleasure of coaching,” Coach Megan Dezarn said. “She told me when she first started track that she wanted to go to college and jump, and she has done what it’s taken, putting in the extra hours to achieve her goal. I couldn’t be more proud of her.”