Sullivan Stevens, who was the 2010 Nevada state champion in both the 110-meter and 300-meter events, recently placed seventh in the 60-meter hurdles at the NAIA National Indoor Track Championships for Southern Oregon University. The 8.24-second finish placed Stevens in the top eight and earned him the status of an NAIA All-American, making him one of the first indoor All-American performers in the program history at SOU. For Stevens, the accomplishment of becoming an All-American for the Raiders was special.
“It’s great,” Stevens said. “It’s a real honor to achieve that and be a part of this team. It’s just the achievement of a lot of hard work from me and my teammates that we’re all putting in. I’ve only done a couple of indoor meets, and that was starting in February, so it was a lot more different experience than outdoor. It was a lot shorter because I only had to run 60 meters instead of 110, but it was fun.
“Just competing and being able to get seventh place was awesome. It’s not just me that is getting seventh place though. It’s the whole team at Southern up here. I know I worked hard for it but I was coached by a lot of people and have gotten a lot of support. I guess I was one of the first ones able to do it for indoor, but I’m not going to be the only one to be able to do it for outdoor.”
Although Stevens was happy to be named an All-American, he still wanted to place better than seventh, so much so that he did not call home to share the good news.
“He didn’t call us,” Karen Stevens, Sullivan’s mother, said. “So we were looking around to try and find the results. We actually went online to get the meet results and that’s how we found out he got seventh. At first we thought only the top six were considered All-American, but we were wrong thankfully.
“We’re so proud of him. He’s worked really hard to get there. He’s got a drive that is unmatched. He’s just very driven. He doesn’t want to let anybody beat him. He may not have been happy with his finish, but we are.”
For Karen, she is still surprised at how her son achieves what he does.
“Honestly I’m amazed because everybody just looks down on him because of his height,” Karen Stevens said. “For a hurdler he’s very short. Most hurdlers are six-foot or taller, and Sullivan is 5-foot-8. So even when he stood on the podium at state and everyone else was taller and the same height, that’s something that you can’t get out of your mind, ever.
“I still don’t understand how he is able to do that. Sometimes we just have to sit back and laugh about it because he’s running and he’s not happy with it and we could never be that fast. All we can do is just to tell him how proud we are. He knows that if we were at the indoor championships we would have been embarrassing him.”
The reason that Stevens probably would have been embarrassed is because rather than desiring the spotlight just to be on him, Stevens likes to give a lot of the credit of his accomplishments to those around him.
“I have great teammates,” Stevens said. “They’re really supportive. I’m not the only one that is getting better. We have a really good team and my teammates have been really helpful. Just the coaches and my teammates create a supportive environment and it’s breeding a lot of success. So a big part of the credit goes to them.
“I’ve made a lot of good friends over here. Everyone gets along and it’s just a comfortable environment. I’m away from home and so obviously I’m not living with my parents, but I have coaches and teammates here that really help really help keep me motivated and make me want to really do well. It’s the same as when I was at Spanish Springs with the faculty and coaches and my friends and teammates. It all keeps you motivated and makes you want to run. It’s fun.”
Stevens has made sure to utilize that encouragement, which has helped him succeed against the stiffer competition at Southern Oregon.
“It’s a lot more serious,” Stevens said. “It’s fun, but in high school a big part of it was just wanting to be out there and trying to have fun, but you come out here and you get a scholarship, then you have expectations. You’re not supposed to just show up anymore. You’re expected to do well. There’s a lot more responsibilities. There is no ‘I kind of want to show up late today.’ You have to show up at this time, you’re expected to lift and run, and run hard.
“We have really tough competition up here. We run against everyone. Even our team practices are real hard and those even feel like competitions because everyone goes so hard. Trying to keep up with some of my other teammates, that is getting me better. At meets, we compete against every school. It’s not like football where D-I programs don’t really play smaller schools. We run against just about everybody. The competition just depends on how good you are really. You just want to make sure you get into the best heat. The faster your heat, that is your competition.”
With a short break between the indoor and outdoor seasons, Stevens said he is itching to get back out on the track and racing.
“I’ve grown up with outdoor, so I’d say I like outdoor more, but track is track and just competing is all the same kind of fun. I just can’t wait to run. I was trying to come home this past weekend to watch my brother run at the Carson meet because I just want to be a part of it, whether it’s watching a meet or running and competing,” Stevens said. “It’s a whole lot of fun. I’m just looking forward to getting back on the track. I love the competition and being in a race. I can’t wait to feel that feeling of getting in the blocks and then starting and finishing. Even watching my teammates succeed is a great feeling. It’s awesome.”
With the outdoor season for Southern Oregon set to open with the Hornet Invitational Saturday at Sacramento State, Stevens will be back in the blocks waiting for the sound of the gun, and his goals for this spring will be as high as ever.
“Last year I made the national championships for the high hurdles so this season I want to make it for both the hurdles,” Stevens said. “I want to get All-American in at least the high hurdles like I did in the indoors. That’d be great. Hopefully our team can win conference, too. That’d even be better.”