By Ronald Hanaki
Last Saturday, sophomore Aspen Gaita set a new school record at Lafayette College’s 7-Way Meet by running the 100-meter hurdles in 14.46 seconds. It is the fifth time this season that Gaita has broken a school record.
So how does Gaita explain her success?
Gaita said, “My goal is to better myself from last meet. If I happen to do well at the meet, that’s good,” said Gaita.
“I just try to run my best. There is always someone better than you, so you always have to keep working,” said Gaita.
Gaita is a multi-event track and field student-athlete. She competes in the hurdles, high jump, long jump and the pentathlon.
Of course, track and field is in the genes for Gaita because her mother is former ESU track and field standout athlete and current assistant coach Karen Gaita. Her father was also a wrestler and football player at Muhlenberg College.
Gaita stated, “Ever since I was little, I have always been interested in running.”
Gaita is from Stroudsburg and attended Stroudsburg High School. With her mom being an assistant coach here, Gaita grew up around ESU’s Track and Field team.
“It’s such a cool feeling because my mom competed here. Now I am competing here,” said Gaita.
“I am like a miniature her. Now I am an athlete here, so it’s pretty cool. I am also around my family and friends,” added Gaita.
Despite growing up in Stroudsburg and being around ESU track and field all her life, Gaita opted to attend Kent State University before transferring to ESU last summer.
Gaita said, “I decided Kent State wasn’t for me. This [ESU] was a better fit.”
“I placed at their championship meet, but in my opinion, I am doing much better here than at Kent State,” said Gaita.
“Coaching is pretty good at both places, but it was more like a job over there. The teams are a lot different. At Kent, it was more spread out, and people didn’t talk to each other,” said Gaita.
“I am more motivated to do well here,” added Gaita. “I wanted to come to practice instead of feeling like I am going to a job. It’s a lot more fun here,” said Gaita.
Being at ESU enables Gaita to work more closely with her mom.
“I trained with my mom this season. We have different workouts, and I found that ESU’s training is more suited for me program-wise,” said Gaita.
“The focus is more on the team at Kent. ESU takes the time to focus on each athlete, so there is more specialized training here,” said Gaita.
“I have long- and short-term goals. I take each meet and focus on what I want to focus on. If I focus on it, and it goes well, I have achieved it,” said Gaita.
“My long-term goals are to set news PRs [personal records] and placing at nationals,” said Gaita.
Gaita recently competed at the 2017 NCAA Divison II Indoor Track and Field Championships in Birmingham, Ala.
“My generic goal is to set a PR at each meet, but realistically, I need to focus on each day. All I can do is work and try my best and leave it all on the track,” said Gaita.
“I focus on bettering myself and bettering my times. If I run the race, and it felt good, and the form was good, but I don’t place, I still accomplished what I wanted to,” said Gaita.
“It’s another meet. I just try to breathe and get through it,” said Gaita.
Gaita’s new teammates at ESU all welcomed the sophomore transfer.
“I like having teammates who push you. Erin [Brady] is my training partner,” said Gaita.
“It’s not how you compete with each other. It’s how I compete with her. If I’m working on a mid-distance run, Erin pushes me,” said Gaita.
“It’s the same with everybody. Michayla Weitman is a multi like me, and I compete against her. She’s good,” said Gaita.
Because she is a student-athlete, Gaita doesn’t have time for much else. When she does, she enjoys outdoor adventures. She likes kayaking, canoeing and hiking.
In the classroom, Gaita is majoring in criminal justice and wants to become a forensic psychologist. But for now, running and competing remain her top priorities.
“It’s a lot of hard work, and I put in a lot of time and effort. Even in the summer, you are sometimes out there twice a day working and working,” said Gaita.
“Sure, mom and dad helped with the genes, but other than that, it’s training,” stated Gaita.
Gaita remains determined to succeed.
“I don’t think that I’m ever going to stop running, even if I’m old and wrinkly. I don’t think that I could ever stop,” said Gaita.
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