UCA junior and Stephens, Arkansas, native Ajah Criner has been breaking records for UCA women’s track this season, but hopes to break even more.
While in her hometown, Criner was heavily involved in basketball where she was a forward. She did not start running track until her ninth-grade year when she was in high school in Hope, Arkansas.
“I played basketball and I ran track and that was it,” Criner said.
Criner has been a sprinter since her ninth-grade year, and continued to run even after she graduated from Hope High School in 2016.
Criner tied UCA’s record and finished second in the 200 meter with a time of 24.72 seconds during the Samford University January Open, but came back even stronger at the Howie Ryan Invitational hosted by the University of Houston where she ran a 24.54 to finish third overall and break UCA’s record in the 200 meter dash.
“It felt good, but after that it was kind of like it’s time to break something else,” Criner said.
Criner’s typical routine prior to her events are to size up the track, then relax and warm up. Her warm ups consist of stretching, running and listening to music.
When she became a part of the UCA track and field family, Criner had her expectations set.
“I knew that I wanted to be in the record book, so that was my goal when I got here,” Criner said.
Although she has not had any unexpected obstacles this season, she did have to overcome her own criticism by motivating herself to achieve her record-breaking dreams.
“I kind of doubted myself at first, but I feel better now,” Criner said. “I feel better than I ever have.
With the help of her team and her coaches, Criner found the confidence she needed to put her doubts behind her and achieve the goals that she had hoped to achieve when she came to UCA.
Criner was named an All-Southland Conference medalist following the 2019 SLC Indoor Championships in early March. She earned second-team honors, which landed her a silver medal, while also breaking the school record in the 200 meter.
Ultimately, she hopes to become an athletic trainer after earning her bachelor’s degree in exercise science.
Criner hopes to break more outdoor records this season and stay motivated both inside and outside of the classroom.