Rashid becomes All-American

Published 10:38 pm Friday, March 21, 2014

Suffolk’s Malika Rashid of the Indiana Institute of Technology recently followed up her impressive freshman showing at the NAIA indoor track and field national championships with an All-American sophomore effort.

Sophomore Malika Rashid, a former Nansemond River High School track athlete, holds her award for placing sixth in the long jump at the NAIA indoor national championships.

Sophomore Malika Rashid, a former Nansemond River High School track athlete, holds her award for placing sixth in the long jump at the NAIA indoor national championships.

The top eight finishers in events at the recent National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics meet claimed All-American honors. Rashid took sixth in the long jump with an 18-foot-5.75-inch leap, and she placed seventh in the 60-meter dash with a time of 7.595 seconds.

Asked about the meet, she said she felt “good that I was an All-American, because last year I missed it.”

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But even in 2013, she had a notable claim to fame. In the 60-meter dash, “She was the highest placing freshman at nationals,” Indiana Tech head coach Doug Edgar said.

Even so, he praised her 2014 performance when he said, “It was definitely an improvement from last year.”

Rashid’s excitement this year was centered on how she did in the long jump because she had been hoping for more from herself in the 60 meters.

She ran a 7.57-second time in preliminaries, but had run a personal record (PR) 7.55 earlier in the season. For nationals, she said, “I wanted to try to get to 7.4.”

“I wanted to do better, but I was still grateful that I could be an All-American, and I was excited about my long jump because I keep PR-ing out of nowhere,” she said.

Her long jumping is particularly impressive since she has only been training in the event since February.

Her mark at nationals this year was a personal record.

“I was just going off of speed, really, for that event because I didn’t get to practice a lot with the jumpers, but that’s why it was exciting and it was like out of nowhere,” she said.

Edgar gave his opinion on why she has had such a good year.

“She’s changed a lot of things in her training,” he said. “She’s been a little bit more focused I think on sleep and diet. She’s doing a lot of the little things. She does a lot of core work and some extra stuff outside of practice that kind of supplements what we’re doing during the practice sessions.”

He credited a new jumps coach at Indiana Tech with helping Rashid improve her technique.

Rashid’s reasons for her improvement this year revealed her competitive instincts.

“Last year, I was a freshman, and it was just like, ‘Well, I don’t have anything to lose, so I’m just running,’” she said. “And then this year, we had some people that transferred and then some freshmen and then some of them were fast, so I was like, ‘I can’t get behind.’ So, I was doing everything that I could at practice, I had to get more serious.”

She received encouragement outside of practice from back home, as well.

“My mom would tell me, ‘You need to eat right, you need to eat right. You need to stop eating past a certain time and you need to eat certain things because you need more protein, and you need enough sleep.’”

She put her mother’s advice into practice and also exercised every night to make sure her body stayed as healthy as possible.

Her former high school coach, Justin Byron at Nansemond River High School, has tracked her performances at the next level and keeps in touch with her.

“It’s a joy to see how well she’s doing,” he said.

He recalled something he observed about her back in high school that is paying dividends now.

“What I really liked about her was just her dedication,” he said.

Byron also highlighted the positive effect her collegiate success can have on his Nansemond River athletes, like her younger sister Zakiya Rashid.

“It just sets a great example for Zakiya,” he said.

Edgar described what should be the next step for Malika Rashid in her junior year.

“The goal is to move up and be really a top three placer in both of those events,” he said of the 60 meters and the long jump. “That’s definitely realistic kind of moving into the next year, and we’d like to expand her to maybe helping the 200 a little bit if we can get to that point, but she’s doing really good on those two short, really explosive events.”