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Q2 AOW: National champ Sydney Little Light about more than wins

RMC Sydney Little Light.png
Posted at 3:27 PM, Jun 01, 2022

BILLINGS - The last time we saw Q2's Athlete of the Week was in November. Yet, here we are just over six months later, with the stakes even higher — and the performance even more exceptional for Sydney Little Light.

"My personality isn't like, I'm going to win, let's race! My personality is like, I'm scared, can I do this?" Little Light said.

Well, we now know that answer.

Little Light on Friday won her first NAIA Track and Field National Championship claiming the women's 1500-meter run in Gulf Shores, Alabama, a town nestled to the Gulf of Mexico.

She admits the title wasn't really on her radar after finishing ninth in the 1500m a year ago. But it is her favorite outdoor race, which may have had something to do with the outcome.

"On the second lap, people went to pass me and I was like, Oh, I'm fine. I'll just let them pass me and move with them around the pack," Little Light told MTN Sports back on RMC's campus. "Then in the last 400 meters I just took it."

She took it all right, closing with the fastest minute of her 1500m racing life (actually 64 seconds) and winning in 4:25:9.

"I didn't know how close that girl was to me, but figured even if she came up to my shoulder I would've had enough," Little Light said of British Columbia's Holly MacGillivray who was second in 4:26.40. "In the video you can see me smiling and I'm just like, what the heck?"

Growing up in Hardin, Little Light remembers from an early age her parents always toting her along to Crow Fair, where they'd run a 5K. It was around age eight or nine she realized she might be good.

"This one race, I beat my dad for the first time and I was like, I like to race," she recalled with a laugh.

After winning Friday's title Friday, she raced the 800 a couple hours later finishing sixth to earn All-America honors in both events.

Little Light is now back on Rocky's campus, quiet for the summer and occupied by only a handful of students. But she's juggling two jobs; resident adviser in the dorms to earn room and board, and interning for the Native American Development Center.

"It's about suicide prevention and working with Native youth," she said of the NADC position.

Little Light regrets losing a cousin during this track and field season, which "made it pretty rough."

"When funeral stuff was going on, I was driving back here to run and be at practice, then I would be back (to Hardin) at midnight and sleep four hours and then come back to school and run... and going back and forth.

"The only reason I'm speaking about that is because I feel like there's a lot more to college sports than just doing well," she continued. "There's mental health and it's okay to talk about things that are going on."

Just a few weeks ago, Little Light was interviewed for an HBO documentary on Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women. It's a principle very dear to her and a priority on her career drive.

"I want to be a homicide detective on the reservation."

She's already prepping for it. A self-proclaimed "true crime junkie," Sydney is glued to those themed podcasts even when she trains. In fact, she tried enticing teammates with it.

"I took them to a race once and made them all listen to a podcast. Everybody wanted pump-up music and I was like, be quiet -- and listen to my podcast," she recalled, again laughing.

The national champ - entering her senior year - should certainly get first choice on the travel playlist.