I'm a fan of Wichita State sprinter Audacia Moore.
Before I interviewed her this week for this column, people told me she wouldn't be very responsive. Not because she doesn't know how to communicate, people said. It's just that communicating, at least verbally, isn't high on Moore's list of favorite things.
As I found out, the only time she's gotten a grade other than an "A" during her two years at Wichita State was in speech.
"Apparently, I'm no good with public speaking,'' she said. "I got a 'B' in that class and every time I think about it, it upsets me. But what are you gonna do? I'm certainly not going to re-take that class.''
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OK, so speaking, at least in comparison to the rest of her academic pursuits, isn't Moore's thing. Still, she's carrying a 3.94 or 3.97 GPA — she can't remember which — and is hoping to get into WSU's nursing program.
"Why? I honestly couldn't tell you," Moore said. "But as far as I know, nursing is the only thing that I've ever wanted to do. Hmm, I don't really know why. My grandma is a nurse.''
Maybe that's it.
Moore is definitely subdued, but the more people get to know her, the more they detect the fire within.
When Wichita State track and field coach Steve Rainbolt recruited Moore out of Heights, where she won the state 100- and 200-meter dashes in her junior and senior seasons, he wasn't sure what to think at first.
Moore came across as someone whose passion for track wasn't really that strong. For a while, Rainbolt thought the only reason Moore was in the sport was because she was fast and not because of any desire to be successful.
Rainbolt has come to know a different Moore the past two years. The real Moore.
"She's kind of a quiet person, a nice girl and very respectful,'' Rainbolt said. "But she'll often try to act like track just isn't that important to her and it's just not true. She's a captain on our track and field team and I appointed her captain because of her demonstration of leadership.''
Moore, according to Rainbolt, is always prodding her teammates for a better performance. And she pushes herself to be the best, even if she occasionally comes across as detached from the sport.
Running is something Moore could always do. Her mother, Alicia Moore (formerly McQueen) was an outstanding sprinter at North who set records in the 100 and 200 at Wichita State.
"My mom influenced me in terms of the events I like to run,'' Audacia Moore said. "But my dad (Michael, a track athlete at Barton County and Wichita State) was a more influential person as far as my running goes. He's the one who was the most active with me.''
Moore tried other sports at Heights; lots of other sports.
"I'm no good at basketball or softball or tennis,'' she said. "I can't do volleyball, either. But I'm pretty good at badminton. Just against my mom, though.''
Being that badminton scholarships are few and far between, Moore is stuck on the track. Having won both the 100 and 200 in the Missouri Valley Conference outdoor meet a couple of weeks ago, she's taken her fast legs to Austin this weekend for the NCAA West Preliminary meet, where she's in both events. Moore made it to a regional meet in the 200 last season, but finished dead last among the qualifiers. It was tough.
"By the time regionals rolled around last year — I really didn't want to do anything after the conference meet,'' Moore said. "This year, though, I'm looking forward to running. I never get to see most of these girls from the other schools so I'm looking forward to it. It's going to be fun to compete in my events and watch the rest of the meet.''
Moore ran in the 100 preliminaries Thursday night — her time of 11.84 seconds was enough to move her into tonight's seccond round; she will be in the 200 prelims today as well. The top 12 in each event qualify for the NCAA Outdoor track and field championships in Eugene, Ore., starting June 8.
"Audacia can be in that mix, but she's not right now,'' Rainbolt said. "Her times aren't in the top 12 in this region in either the 100 or the 200, but in the 200 there are a bunch of girls within a couple of tenths of one another.''
Rainbolt thinks the level of competition, unlike anything Moore sees during the Missouri Valley Conference season, could serve as an incentive, even though she was swallowed up by the quality of runners in a regional last year.
"She was fifth in the U.S. Junior meet last summer,'' Rainbolt said. "That was against a really good field. She did not have a great regional meet last year, but she was a freshman who had just been through a long season and she just kind of got the wind taken out of her sails.''
Moore hated the feeling of finishing last, so something tells me there's some pride at work here, too.
"My race last year in the regionals wasn't a big success at all,'' she said. "It was kind of a failure, really. But it's something I definitely remember.''
Rainbolt is curious to see how Moore, one of 22 Shockers participating in Austin, will perform.
"We're in a very tough region with the state of Texas,'' he said. "Just Texas A&M alone could have an intrasquad meet and their top eight finishers in the sprints would be better than most conferences in America. They're just unbelievable.''
Moore doesn't research her competition.
"If I did, I'd get kind of antsy,'' she said. "I just show up and run.''
It's her thing, even if she's not always sure about it being her thing.
"I have a passion for running, yeah,'' Moore said. "If I didn't, I would have quit a long time ago. This is a difficult sport. Really difficult.''