Hit With The Unimaginable: Daniel's Re-Up Story

Photo courtesy of University of Texas Athletics

re-up /ˈrēˌəp/ verb - a second chance, 2.0, new and improved, to do again

In the beginning of her college career, she shocked the world becoming the fastest freshman in NCAA history while winning a NCAA Indoor title in the 60m. Since her breakout year in 2016 she continued to build an impressive resume on the track while battling nagging injuries and a loss that changed her perspective on life.

Looking forward to her new professional track and field journey, Teahna Daniels always had a plan for herself. She recalled the time leading up to her national championship performance and remembered speaking it into existence.

"I mean, I always knew I could do it, actually that was my plan," she said. "When I was in high school, I was talking to my high school coach and I said, 'I'm going to win nationals my freshman year' and he was like 'alright, well do it' and then I did it. It was always something I had in the back of my mind, but to do it is a feeling I can't really explain."

Following her American Junior record, Daniels felt the pressure to execute early on in her freshman outdoor season.

"I was so young and I had put a lot of pressure on myself in the beginning," Daniels said. "Then unfortunately I got a grade I quad strain at Texas Relays during my first collegiate outdoor race, so that kind of set me back mentally. I felt the pressure for sure, but the coaching staff at the time and my family helped me out a little bit through that."

Daniels continued to solidify herself as a Big 12 sprinting powerhouse throughout her sophomore year. She became a six-time Big 12 medalist with wins in the 60m and 100m. Following her outdoor conference title, Daniels finished third at the 2017 NCAA Outdoor Championships in the 100m with a 11.06.

It was during her junior season that Daniels was hit with the unimaginable. Her father passed away.

"When my dad passed away getting back into it was probably the hardest part, finding that motivation again and even having the spirits to train," she said. "It took me out of that college mindset, it took me into reality if that makes sense. It told me that life is real, and you need to make the best of it and take things a lot more seriously than you do now because anything can happen, at any time."

The First Academy alumna remembered one of her fondest moments with her father during her time in the sport, it was about 10 years ago.

"I'm not sure what year it was, but it was during an AAU track meet, nationals, in Houston," Daniels said. "I had really bad back spasms and I'm like 10, 11 maybe 12 years old, and I'm like 'why am I having back spasms?' But since I couldn't compete anymore my dad had a talk with me and he said, 'if you can't run it's okay, I still love you, this doesn't define you, you're going to be okay. Just get back and get healthy.' In that moment, I felt really connected to him and we drove back to Florida from Houston that same day. We just had great bonding moments throughout that time."

Daniel's father always said to her, just keep pushing and never give up, and she did just that. The Texas sprinter went on to win her second 100m conference title that spring, while setting a facility record of 11.11. The 2018-2019 season was the last for Daniels and with all the ups and downs, there's nothing she'd change.

"It definitely went by so fast," she said. "I didn't believe anyone before, but now that I've lived it and my four years are up, it's like alright now it's time for real life and to start your pro career. These last four years have definitely gone by so fast."

Daniels made sure to make the best of her final season as a Longhorn. After three years she returned to the indoor national 60m final and placed second running 7.19. At the Big 12 Outdoor Championships, Daniels was the highest scorer for the Texas women leading them to the team conference title with her wins in the 100m (11.1) and 200m (22.71).

At the NCAA West Region Preliminary, Daniels achieved a new milestone in her career. She ran a wind-legal 10.99, rising the ranks to third fastest in school history.

"That's always a dream for short sprinters, to run sub-11," the Longhorn said. "Just to hit that mark in a field where I can go even faster just shows the sky's the limit."

Daniels capped off her career with All-American performances in the 100m and 200m at outdoor nationals. She began her professional career shortly after at the Prefontaine Classic.

"I really use these meets after nationals as training, just to kind of keep everything going," she said. "I didn't want to sit around for a month or so of doing nothing but training. I wanted to compete and get in some meet to keep everything firing."

The Longhorn also competed for Team USATF at the NACAC U23 Championships and won the 100m over a stacked field in 11.03. Two days after running in Queretaro, Mexico, she flew to Monaco, France to compete in her first Diamond League meeting.

"It was my first international race, I've never been to Europe before, so it was a surreal experience," Daniels said. "My experience there was really fun, Monaco is beautiful in itself. Just to even compete in a field like that with Olympians and gold medalists, I wasn't really intimidated by them because of their status, but I was just grateful to even have a lane."

After placing fourth in the 200m overseas, her main focus is qualifying for the World Championships in Doha for Team USA. She's scheduled to run the 100m and 200m at the USATF Toyota Outdoor Championships in Des Moines starting on June 25. Her plan to make the team is simple, focus on herself.

"Just focus myself, focus on my lane, not letting the hype get to me because track is full of hype," she said. "I always feel like I'm the underdog when it comes to this sport because there's always someone faster, there's always going to be someone new and shiny…I'm just focusing on my main goal and that's to make the team. That's pretty much it, everything else will follow."

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