Edge takes third at 2017 DIII indoor nationals

Kaelia Neal, Sports editor

“Runners to your mark,” the start line official says, starting gun in hand.

The competitors drive their knees and launch themselves into the air before placing their feet in the starting blocks. They crouch down in a squat and place their fingertips just behind the white starting line. The women stoop their heads down, revering the nature of the task before them. Taking slow, deep breaths, they become motionless.

“Set,” the official says, as he waits for every competitor to straighten their knees and raise their hips, ready to explode out of the blocks.

Boom! They athletes spring into action.

And who’s in the lead? It’s simple: whoever gets out the blocks the fastest and arrives first to the hurdle.  And that’s always Dallas Edge’s goal.

Edge takes roughly eight quick steps and leaps over the first 33-inch obstacle. Her curly, brown hair drags behind her while her eyes fixate on the finish line, determined to get there first. She makes quick work of the 10 hurdles within the 100-meter race, and in a matter of less than 15 seconds the purple singlet reaches the end first. 14.27 illuminates in the first position across the scoreboard, and the Linfield Wildcat is the 2014 Northwest Conference 100-meters hurdles champion.

That was just the preview of the impact Edge’s collegiate career would have on Linfield College. Standing at 5 feet 5 inches with a slim figure, she appears smaller than most of her competitors. However, Edge is a natural athlete and loves a challenge. She considers herself an adrenaline junkie as she enjoys surfing, kitesurfing, paddle boarding and even went bungee jumping. Because of her braveness and competitiveness, she is now a five-time Division III NCAA qualifier, two-time Northwest Conference champion, two-time NCAA all-American, and school record holder.      

“I would describe Dallas as focused,” teammate Taylor Petersen said. “She gets tunnel vision on what she needs to do in her race. I’ve never seen something like this. She’s so mentally focused it’s like a switch.”

“On the track, Dallas is very focused and determined,” Linfield head track coach Travis Olson said. “She doesn’t let other things get in the way of her commitment to track.”

Edge began track at Kopachuck Middle School and fell in love, but because of her height, she had to convince her coaches at Gig Harbor High School in Washington to let her to race the hurdles. “Little Dally” and “shrimp” is how her high school coaches would address her.

It took her nearly a year and a half to prove to her coaches she had the proper technique to be successful. “It taught me patience and I didn’t pick up any bad habits,” Edge said. “It made me want to work hard because I was small.”

Edge advanced to the Washington state track meet her sophomore, junior and senior year of high school. She placed in the top-eight each year, and even took home a third place performance her senior year in the 100m hurdles.

After her high school track career, Edge decided to continue her success collegiately. She chose Linfield College because her high school coaches spoke highly of the track and program and knew the coaches, Travis Olson and Garry Killgore.

Edge concluded her freshman year of track with a NWC championship, a school record and a trip to nationals. “She started off freshman year making way bigger improvements than I think she expected,” Olson said. Consequently, she was riding a wave of confidence going into her sophomore year of college.

She advanced to the NCAA Division III Track and Field Championships in 2015, where she became all-American with her eighth place performance. Edge was prepared to have yet another successful season until she came to a crash during an ordinary afternoon practice session.

“I came back from indoor nationals with a high, but I did one block start and broke my elbow and got a concussion.”

Edge was originally told by a doctor in McMinnville that her season was over, but she wanted to get a second opinion when she went home to Washington during spring break. “My doctor at home said I was okay, so I did hurdle walk-overs with no running.”

Edge immediately began training when she returned to Linfield. Despite her month-long recovery stint with no competition, she still managed to advance to outdoor nationals. “I accelerated that process really fast, and I got lucky I didn’t get hurt again.” Edge is tenacious, and will not take no for an answer even when the odds are stacked against her.

During her junior year, Edge punched tickets to the indoor and outdoor track and field championships. However, she still felt the effects physically and mentally from her injury sophomore year and ultimately did not make it to the finals. “It was a rollercoaster. I was emotionally and physically drained,” she said.

Although Edge’s collegiate career looked impressive, she knew she was capable of much more. She did not feel like the same runner since her concussion and broken elbow. But during her attendance at 2017 NCAA Division III Indoor Track & Field Championships this past March, Edge had an experience that reminded her who she was as an athlete and a person.

“I was really focused to make it out of prelims, which meant I needed to focus on getting out of the blocks and win my heat.” This proved to not be an issue for Edge as she won her heat and advanced to the finals.

From there, she not let up. Edge kept her focus and knew she had to keep the same goal: get out of the blocks first. With this in mind during finals, she found herself flying over the hurdles, aligning herself with the top finishers as she crossed the finish line. “I knew it was really close,” Edge said. “I don’t even remember the race because it’s really short and fast.”

Moments later, Edge learned her time of 8.70 seconds earned her a third place finish, the highest placement for a female Wildcat in a running event since 2001.

She was in complete disbelief at what she had accomplished. “I was speechless because I had never experienced that before. I’ve never really put down a good performance my six other times at nationals,” Edge said.

“All the other girls were talking to each other before awards and I was sitting there like, ‘Oh my God.’ It didn’t really hit me that I got third.”

After dealing with nagging injuries and battling confidence the last two years, Edge is finally able to perform at the level she is capable of. “For her to overcome all of those obstacles as senior, it’s like she can do anything,” Olson said.

“Everyone was saying ‘Yay! You did it!’ And I was like, ‘Wow, I really did do it,’” Edge said. Her performance at indoor nationals was a start to what could be the preview of having a successful, final season as a Linfield Wildcat.

Some people question if Edge has the “right” build for hurdles, and injuries were always a battle.  Despite the tribulations, her fierce, competitive, and adrenaline-fueled drive propelled her to national success. Edge is ready for one last collegiate national experience, and will not let anything block her from achieving her goals.