"During the ODAC championships for indoor track held at Roanoke College on February 25th, 2018, Natalie Deacon was entered to run in three events: the 800, the mile and the 3000 meter race. It so happened that Marissa Coombs, another nationally ranked runner from Virginia Wesleyan was also going to be running in those three races. I knew it would definitely be a good race between the two competitors, so I made sure to get a good spot to capture them crossing the finish line. The mile and 800 were the first two races of the trio. Nat and Marissa were the leaders throughout each race, both comfortable in their positions, but, towards the end, it was a battle. In both races, it was a close finish, but Marissa crossed the line first to claim the victories. She beat out Nat by 1.9 seconds in the mile and only 0.11 seconds in the 800 meter (there is actually another picture from the 800 with them crossing the finish line and Nat had a little grin on her face because she knew Marissa had her).
The last race was the 3000. This was going to be the final battle between Nat and Marissa in this meet. As they approached the finish line, there was a look of complete grit on both faces and I knew neither of them wanted to let this one go. I saw them coming and was snapping pictures all the way from the final turn. I could feel the energy and excitement from the crowd of people watching, but I had to keep my cool and stay focused. I couldn’t put my camera down until the race was over. This picture was taken immediately after they crossed the finish line and Nat knew she had it. The official times were up on the board and she had won by 0.05 seconds. She had her victory. The look on her face says it all. The pure joy of great competition.
It is moments like these that remind me why I love photography and the amazing opportunity I have with this job. When times get stressful and the pressure is on, especially during important meets like ODAC championships, pictures of these moments make it all worth-while. These are the times that athletes will look back at and be reminded of not only the big victories, but also the little moments that people don’t always get to see. It makes me so happy to be a part of and share those stories because they are not only meaningful to the athletes, but to their families as well. I love being able to capture a picture like this to give them a lasting memory and a small reminder of the story behind it to carry with them for years to come."