Two years ago, Cydnee Wallace traded in her pom-poms for running shoes.
The lithe 18-year-old freshman sprinter is ripping it up on the track, winning her first collegiate 100-meter dash and placing second in the 200 last month.
“When I won first place I was shocked, honestly. I blank out when I run. I had to ask people around me what had happened,” Wallace said.
Wallace, a former cheerleader who was accustomed to being on the sidelines, got a late start in athletics. She joined the track team at Kennedy High School in La Palma her senior year.
Although other community colleges are closer to Norwalk, Wallace’s hometown, she chose to enroll at SAC because her old coach, Erice Major, leads the Dons sprint team.
He had been trying to recruit her for track since her sophomore year and wasn’t willing to let her go when she started college, he said.
“I told her come over here with Coach Mitzel, and we’ll get you on the right path,” said Major, who saw talent in Wallace early in high school.
“From an athletic standpoint there was nothing she couldn’t do in the weight room. She is gifted and she hasn’t even reached her full potential,” added Major.
Physically, Wallace prepares for meets the same way the rest of the team does: an intense six-day workout regimen.
But mentally, she is way ahead of the pack.
“Picturing myself running and then finishing the race always helps me,” Wallace said. “I feel pressure at a meet but you have so much adrenaline that you either use it to your ability or you get nervous, and I like to use it to be better.”
It’s proven to be a success.
So far, Wallace has finished first at 13.08 seconds in the 100-meter dash, and second at 27.16 seconds in the 200-meter dash against Fullerton College and Orange Coast College Feb. 24.
It’s evident how much talent Wallace has to become a top college sprinter, and she has already met the minimum requirements to qualify for this year’s Orange Empire Conference meet.
“I’m not going to be surprised if she is the top sprinter for our conference,” Head Coach Mitzel said.