HUNTINGTON — Crystal Walker has made a lot of long jumps in her life.
Earlier this month, in fact, Walker broke the 23-year-old Marshall University record in the long jump.
But that jump was nothing compared to the leap she took almost two years ago, when she moved nearly 1,000 miles from Texas to Huntington to continue her track career.
“I was in my comfort zone, where I was,” Walker said of her first two years at Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches. “You can only do so much in your comfort zone. So, I got out of it. And I decided to come to a place where nobody knows me to start over. I had to make a name for myself.
“And back there, there were so many expectations for me being close to home. Here, there isn’t so much pressure. I can enjoy the sport so much more and can have fun and progress.”
She didn’t take the leap alone, however. She followed her SFA coach, Lacee Carmon-Johnson, who had moved to Huntington to be with her husband, Willie Johnson. He also is an assistant coach for the Thundering Herd track team.
“She’s a really good coach,” Walker, a senior from Dallas, said of Carmon-Johnson. “She helped me get so far from where I was in high school to where I am at the college level, both here and at Stephen F. Austin.”