UCF Track and Field's Logan Breaks Boundaries Heading into NCAA East Preliminaries

GO KNIGHTS Ne'Ausha Logan earned one of UCF's nine gold medals at this year's Conference USA Outdoor Championships.
Ne'Ausha Logan earned one of UCF's nine gold medals at this year's Conference USA Outdoor Championships.

May 23, 2012

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By Jenna Marina

ORLANDO, Fla. (UCFAthletics.com) - According to Norse mythology, the Kraken is a giant sea monster capable of destroying large ships with its many tentacles.

If you ask the members of the UCF track and field team, it takes the form of 5-foot-5 sophomore middle-distance runner Ne'Ausha Logan.

On May 11, the night prior to UCF's first full-day of competition at the Conference USA Outdoor Championships, head coach Caryl Smith Gilbert, a self-proclaimed lover of the film "The Clash of the Titans," preached to her team that they were about to unleash the Kraken.

"The Kraken destroys everything. My sentiment was in order to do what needed to be done, we had to destroy everything," Smith Gilbert said. "You bring out the Kraken when things have to change. It wasn't that we were trying to destroy the other teams. I was trying to destroy negative energy, past mentality, destroy fear, destroy doubt, destroy losing. The Kraken does that."

When Logan blew away her competitors in the preliminaries of the 800 meters, it seemed UCF found someone to embody the idea. When she repeated her success in the finals for the gold medal, the nickname stuck.

"Ne'Ausha's performance shut the meet down. It got really quiet," Smith Gilbert said. "Ne'Ausha is the Kraken because everything was wiped out after the 800, and we rose up and performed to the best of our ability. She brought the level of performance to another standard. After she ran, Jackie Coward and Aisha Frazier (the 400 hurdles), the 200 runners -- everybody got motivated. That's what I've been waiting for all season."

For Logan, the race was a breakthrough and hopefully a starting point to a successful and unforgettable postseason as she travels with the No. 14 Knights to her first ever appearance at the NCAA East Preliminary Round this Thursday-Saturday in Jacksonville.

A native of Long Beach, Calif., Logan got her start as a 400-meter runner in the sixth grade. In her sophomore year of high school, her coach suggested she would have a more successful career as an 800 runner, so she made the switch.

As a freshman last year at UCF, she hit a slump early, one that continued into the beginning of this year's indoor season.

"I started getting scared. I started doubting myself, thinking maybe I'm not fast anymore. Maybe I can't do this anymore," Logan said. "Coach Caryl and Coach (Paul) Brown kept believing in me. They were like you can do it, just keep pushing and fighting. Eventually I got fed up and said this is not me. I don't know who this person is. I started working hard and I told Coach Brown, I'm going to make it to nationals just watch."

Brown said Logan has figured out how to overcome the mental block she has been experiencing at competitions by finally connecting her practice workouts to her meet performances. Now armed with a championship crown to her resume, Brown said Logan's confidence has transformed her into a completely different person from the competitor she was three weeks ago.

"I think she has a lot more left in the tank and she's looking to drop more time and do better at the NCAA Round One meet this weekend," Brown said. "The challenge is, and this is something we've been talking about daily, is can she execute the same way, run the same splits that she ran completely by herself, can she do that in traffic? I'm trying to get her to not worry about the competition so much and just let them worry about her. This is a unique opportunity for her to step up and continue the momentum that she's brought into the meet."

UCF is sending a school-record 14 competitors to the East Preliminaries for their chance to advance to the NCAA Outdoor Championships on June 6-9. The Knights earned their best showing in school history at the NCAA Indoor Championships with their eighth place finish in March, and Smith Gilbert has high hopes for the team's performance this time around.

"I think at indoor nationals they got a big wakeup call and saw what we could do. Indoor nationals and outdoor conference helped us. I believe getting beat at our indoor conference meet helped us because it made us humble and understand that winning isn't a given. You've got to work hard and go out and perform," Smith Gilbert said. "I think they are ready to perform to their best level and I believe this is the beginning of us starting to believe it and really go after it. It's been a good year and whatever happens from here, I have a feeling we're going to do some good things."



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