Edinboro's Bemis sets sights on track and field nationals
When asked how many school records she has set during her track and field career at Edinboro, Tabitha Bemis fumbles with the numbers.
As near as she can figure, she holds a dozen records between indoor and outdoor events. She also holds two PSAC indoor records (the all-time and championship meet marks in the 60-meter hurdles) and has garnered four indoor All-American honors and earned numerous MVP awards from various meets.
But the Quaker Valley graduate has never measured herself in terms of hardware. For her, it's about getting better every year.
So after what she considered a subpar junior season a year ago, Bemis was determined to make amends.
“Last year I didn't have a personal record in anything,” she said. “I was definitely disappointed that I didn't get better last year.”
Bemis had what she called a “breakout” sophomore year that included two All-American performances at the national indoor meet. Then, for the first time in her athletic life, she started to take success for granted.
As a junior, she said, she still put in the work in the offseason and at practices but only as much as she needed. And on days she didn't feel like finishing her workout, she threw in the towel rather than pushing through it like in prior years.
“Up until (sophomore year), I hadn't really worked that hard for it,” she said. “It just kind of came to me. And after my sophomore year, I just expected it to come.”
She rededicated herself in preparation for her senior year, and the change has been evident.
She equaled her personal best in the indoor 60 hurdles and set personal bests in the 60 dash, indoor long and triple jumps — she set school records and earned All-America honors in both at the national meet — and outdoor triple jump. Her triple jump mark (41 feet, 10 3⁄4 inches) also was a school record and gave Bemis one of her three first-place finishes at the recent PSAC outdoor championships.
All that despite nagging pain in her right knee — the one she uses to push off for jumps and hurdles.
“She really changed her attitude and training around a lot,” Edinboro coach Anne Carlson said. “She's gotten a lot stronger and a lot faster. She's also improved a lot technically.”
And Bemis seems to be reaching her peak just in time. Next weekend, the NCAA Division II Championships will be held at Grand Valley State. She will enter the meet ranked fourth in the country in the triple jump and 12th in the long jump. She also qualified in the 100 hurdles. The top eight in each event will earn All-American status.
An outdoor All-American award is one laurel that has eluded Bemis in her decorated career. Carlson thinks her chances are good to be All-American in both jumping events.
Bemis isn't putting undue pressure on herself.
“I don't think there's any way I could be disappointed with this year,” she said. “Obviously, if I have a really bad national meet I would be a little disappointed, but I still would be able to look back and say I accomplished everything I wanted to accomplish this year.”
Well, not quite everything. She has yet to set a personal best in the outdoor long jump.
“I'm saving that one for nationals.”