Wright named D-III field athlete of the year
After a record-breaking career that included two individual national championships, George Fox University senior heptathlete Annie Wright was named the Division III women's field athlete of the year in late May.
The honor, doled out by the U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association, was voted on by member coaches based on Wright's performance in the regular season and at national competition.
"It came as a pretty big surprise," Wright said. "I wasn't expecting to get it and I just felt really honored. There are a lot of really good field athletes in our conference and around the country."
Wright won the national championship during the indoor season in the pentathlon and followed that with a national title in the heptathlon at outdoor nationals May 23-25 in Geneva, Ohio. She is the just the second national champion in the heptathlon in school history after Alexis Arnold in 2012.
For women at the Division III level, the heptathlon includes the 100 meter hurdles, high jump, shot put, 200 meter sprint, long jump, javelin and 800 meter run.
Wright came into college with zero experience in all but one of those events. After running the 200 and 400 in high school, her coaches at GFU suggested she try out some of the field events during her freshman year.
It worked out.
"I started from ground zero with all the field events," Wright said. "For it to finish up how it ended is super unreal. There was a lot of hard work and a lot of difficult times, but I was always supported by my teammates, coaches, people within the athletic department and my family."
The support GFU officials show for the school's track program is uncommon, Wright said. When she went to nationals, she remembers another athlete asking who the guy was following her around and cheering her on, thinking it must have been a family member or coach.
It was athletic director Adam Puckett. His constant support, along with that of GFU President Robin Baker, is part of the reason why Wright said she "loves" the university community in Newberg.
Wright grew up in Granite Bay, Calif., just east of Sacramento. At Granite Bay High School, she participated in soccer, basketball and track all four years.
"My parents are originally from Iowa, so I grew up with small town rules in the house even though I grew up in a suburban area," Wright said. "Coming to GFU was a no-brainer with the opportunity in athletics and a Christian education."
Now finished with her undergraduate studies and collegiate athletic career, Wright is preapring for graduate school at GFU, where she will pursue a master's degree in education. She will student teach at an area school and hopes to become a physical education and health teacher once she finishes school.
Wright also has coaching – at the high school or collegiate level – in mind along with her teaching career.
"I loved P.E. in high school and I love athletics and a healthy lifestyle," Wright said. "I learned a lot about myself through athletics and through being active, and it helped me establish a strong work ethic in life. I think that sports are a way to connect that with people and I want to be able to explain what my parents taught me through sports to kids in high school."