It’s not often that an athlete’s collegiate career can be summarized simply by listing the records that she’s broken. Isabella Narvaez ’17, though, isn’t your typical runner.
Let’s start with the 60-meter dash. Narvaez holds that school record—she set it on Jan. 17 during the preliminary rounds of the Tufts Winter Invitational. Less than a month later, she broke her own record in the preliminaries of the Dartmouth Classic, when she posted a time of 8.23 seconds.
Next, the 200. Narvaez owns that school record also: She clocked a 26.66-second run at the Boston University Terrier Invitational on Jan. 30.
The 400, though, is where Narvaez really shines. Just this year, she has broken her own school record twice. She posted a 57.93-second time at the ECAC Championships on March 7. Two weeks later, Narvaez dropped eight one-hundredths of a second off her time at the NEICAAA New England Indoor Championships. The next day, Narvaez struck again when she combined with Sharon Ng ’16, Kendra Waters ’15, and Kathleen Hanlon ’15 to set yet another school record in the 4x400 relay.
Narvaez moved with her family from Colombia to Greenwich, Conn., when she was 16 years old. She’d had little exposure to track before the move: She grew up playing basketball, but fell in love with running when she tried it as a high-school sophomore.
“Coming from a team sport like basketball, it was nice to shift into working on individual goals,” says Narvaez. “In track, you set yourself to a new standard every time you run. Just knowing that I can beat myself is something I enjoy. I might be sore, I might be having a bad day, but when I beat my own time, that makes it all worth it. It’s something to reach for.”
Narvaez enjoys track’s focus on the individual, but she says that the support of her teammates is also critically important. “It’s an individual sport, but everyone is aware of other people’s goals,” she says. “The first time I broke 59 seconds in my 400, I asked my entire team to stand at different points around the track and cheer for me. I know that really contributed to me running faster.”
Recently, she has found additional support from another source. The newly renovated Dorothy Towne Field House boasts a four-lane 200-meter track, a high-jump area, and a new long- and triple-jump pit. Narvaez appreciates the new track. “The new track is a lot softer than the old one,” she says. “When you run on a track every day, your legs get tired and exhausted. Having a softer track is easier on your legs. And the new track is so nice—everything feels a little more legitimate.”