Vanessa Lane has had a track and field career filled with accomplishments. With roughly one month left in that career, she hopes to add a few more accomplishments to her resume.
The South Dakota State University senior is wrapping her final season of competitive track and field, but plans to enjoy her final season of a "physically, emotionally and mentally challenging" sport that she has loved since childhood.
"I became passionate about track when I was in seventh grade. I don't really know exactly how it happened, but I just fell in love with the sport - being part of a team, but also having this individualized thing and knowing the work I put in would get points for the team. Even at a young age, that drove me every day."
Lane is a 2014 graduate of Pequot Lakes High School and a former member of the Patriot track team, where she won four state titles and, at one point, held six school records. While those accomplishments remain cherished memories for her, she looks back fondly on her coaches and teammates, as well as the environment that shaped her leadership skills.
"I was a captain in my junior and senior years, so getting into that role was really important for me because being a role model for people younger than me was always a huge goal of mine. I wanted people to be able to look up to me and the hard work I do to help motivate them."
Though she was also an accomplished Patriot athlete on the basketball court as well, she ultimately chose to continue pursuing track, and to do so at the Division I level as a member of the Jackrabbits.
"It was, overall, a great fit for me," she said. "It's not too far from home, and I loved the environment, the coaches and the team. It felt was very family-oriented. You could tell the coaches really cared and the team felt very tight-knit."
Primarily a sprinter in high school, Lane transition to the "multi" events in college. She participates in the pentathlon during the indoor season before competing in the heptathlon once the team moves outdoors.
In the pentathlon, she competes in the 60-meter hurdles, 800-meter race, long jump, high jump and shot put, all in one day.
In the heptathlon, Lane and her opponents utilize two days to compete - competing in the 100-meter hurdles, high jump, shot and 200-meter dash on the first day before trying the long jump, javelin and 800-meter race on the second day. A participant's finish in a given event will net them points that are totalled at the end of the heptathlon.
"Depending on where you are and how many competitors there are, it can be seven to eight hours of competing," Lane said. "It can be a long day."
Those long days have paid off, as she is currently ranked first in the Summit League Conference in the heptathlon and 58th in the nation. Last spring, she set a school record in the event with an overall score of 5,300.
She has also earned All-Summit League honors four times, and says she is not done yet, hoping to do as much as she can in the team's final three meets before the conference championship.
"I just want to go out with a bang and do as much as I can for the team ... It is just kind of crazy that I only have a few weeks left in a sport I've been doing for 16 years. I'm just trying to relax, have fun and not put too much pressure on this season. I have put in all the work, and I just want to do the best I can."
While her competitive track and field career is drawing to a close and she will join the workforce with a degree in consumer affairs, Lane says it will be hard for her to be away from the sport but she does not expect to be away for too long.
"I'm not sure what is going to happen in the next few years, but I would love to maybe even end up in Pequot," Lane said. "That would be amazing. Getting into coaching is something I think I would be very passionate about. I have always loved helping others and making an impact, and coaching does a lot of that."